DETROIT (AP) — Ex-NBA star Shaquille O’Neal has apologized to a Detroit man with a rare disorder for making fun of his appearance in an online post.
Best known as Shaq, the former professional basketball player announced the apology in a Twitter message Tuesday.
“Made a new friend today when I called and apologized to Jahmel Binion. Great dude,” the tweet said.
O’Neal followed up Wednesday with a tweet that said: “Had the opportunity to talk to Jahmel Binion yesterday and apologize about the post on IG!”
O’Neal spokesman Rishi Daulat told The Associated Press on Wednesday that O’Neal personally wrote the tweets. Daulat declined further comment.
Binion has ectodermal dysplasia, which affects his face, teeth and hair. He told MLive.com that he was “confused” when O’Neal posted a picture on Instagram showing him making a face imitating Binion.
“I was thinking ‘Man, he’s supposed to be this role model, someone everyone is supposed to look up to. If Shaq does something like this,” Binion said, everyone who follows him “will think, ‘We should do this.’”
The post was later taken down. AP left an email message for Binion on Wednesday afternoon seeking his reaction to O’Neal’s call.
The National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias wrote an open letter Monday to O’Neal saying “bullying is never acceptable.”
O’Neal, 42, was drafted by the Orlando Magic in 1992 out of Louisiana State. He later played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, retiring in 2011. The Lakers won three straight NBA championships with him in 2000-2002.