KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee woman’s video of her tearful son recounting being bullied at middle school has prompted a wave of support from athletes and entertainers.
Kimberly Jones said in a Facebook post Friday she had just picked up her son, Keaton, from school because he was too afraid to go to lunch.
“For the record, Keaton asked to do this AFTER he had he me pick him up AGAIN because he was afraid to go to lunch,” Jones wrote. “We all know how it feels to want to belong, but only a select few know how it really feels not to belong anywhere.”
In the video, Keaton said other students call him ugly, make fun of his nose and tell him he has no friends. He said milk was poured on him and ham was put down his clothes.
“Just out of curiosity, why do they bully?” Keaton said. “What’s the point of it? Why do they find joy in taking innocent people and find a way to be mean to them? It’s not OK.
“People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it. It’s not their fault. If you are made fun of, just don’t let it bother you.”
On Twitter, athletes, actors, comedians and musicians from across the country and around the world reacted to the heart-wrenching video.
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker offered an inspirational message and invited the Jones family to an upcoming game.
University of Tennessee wide receiver Tyler Byrd said he and several teammates plan to visit Keaton at school.
The Colorado Rockies also extended an invitation to Keaton to attend a game in Denver.
Former Colorado State University football player Bernard Blake sent him a video message: “Never be ashamed of the way you are… you’re very special, very unique to this world.”
Singer Hailee Steinfeld also tweeted a special message just for Keaton.
Country music star Kelsea Ballerini tweeted that the next time she comes home to her native Knoxville, she wants to be with Keaton to witness the bullies apologize.
Now Keaton has high-profile friends in sports and in Hollywood.
Retired race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. said on Twitter he wants Keaton to “add me to your long list of friends,” and Snoop Dogg said on Instagram that Keaton “has a friend for life” and that “love is the only way to beat hate.”
The video of Keaton had more than 18 million views as of Sunday, and a crowdsourcing page for Keaton’s future education had raised more than $31,000.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)