Retired NBA star and TNT sports analyst Shaquille O'Neal has apologized for publishing a selfie mocking a photo of a Michigan man with a rare disorder that has left him with an unusual appearance.
Rapper Waka Flocka and former University of Michigan athlete Trey Burke, who are said to have joined in mocking the man, have also apologized.
The man, 23-year-old Jahmel Binion, has ectodermal dysplasia, a condition that causes a reduced ability to sweat, missing teeth and abnormal hair growth, according to My FOX Detroit. He explained that he has been teased his whole life for his features but he never expected to get the same treatment from celebrities.
The mocking selfie was later removed from O'Neal's Instagram page and replaced by one that shows him mocking the animated character Shrek. Despite the self-deprecating gesture, however, many members of the public continue to criticize O'Neal for what he did, particularly in light of the recent outrage over racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling who has been banned for life for his actions.
"Only thing that makes sense is that you have a mental defect. It's not only about black/white, it's about being a decent human being, "wrote Instagram user candyleigh33. "You made a mistake. If you believe what you did was wrong #APOLOGIZE. If you think what you did was right, then put the pic back up and stand by your actions. But just pretending it didn't happen? Not only are you a horrible mean-spirited man, but you are a fake and a disgrace."
Instagram user af3lmike said: "You're a disgrace @shaq. You come out against 'racism,' people not liking, or making fun of people of other colors, etc. But yet you mock someone because of the way they look. You're no better than Donald Sterling. You're a disgrace to yourself and to society. Take a good look at yourself, Shaq and realize what a piece of garbage you are @kyd227 @darkstaff. Check out the story behind Shaq. He's removed the photo he posted, but you'll see what a sad excuse for a person he is."
Binion later revealed in an anti-bullying Facebook group he started last week that O'Neal called him and apologized personally for making fun of his appearance.
"Shaq contacted me and apologized for his actions. He now understands that his actions were wrong and not only did they hurt me, but my entire NEED family. Hopefully he goes one step further and contributes to#hugdontjudge and NFED," noted Binion on the page.
On Tuesday night, both O'Neal and Waka Flocka acknowledged their misdeeds on Twitter.
"Made a new friend today when I called and apologized to Jahmel Binion. Great dude.#alwayslearning #MYBADCUZ," tweeted O'Neal.
"Right, I wanna apologize to #JahmelBinion for being a[n] ass and making a mockery of him #SaluteLiLHomie #WeAllTheSame Waka Flocka," noted the rapper.