Nigel Hayes recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a successful college basketball career as a Badgers forward, but a fan was more focused on his “bizarre” hairstyle.
Hayes, who is the only Badger to have appeared on the college’s top 10 list for points, rebounds and assists, tweeted a letter from Jennie Madden, a self-proclaimed fan of his and UW-Madison. The note began by congratulating him for earning his degree and staying in college. But it took a turn when she slammed his hair, which he wears in locs.
I guess a black male's naturally dreaded hair in a ponytail isn't fit for NBA teams/communities. As well as, it seems, professional society. pic.twitter.com/9zdnyygyR9
— Nigel Hayes (@NIGEL_HAYES) May 17, 2017
“What the heck crazy odd hairdo are you having on the top of your head??” Madden wrote. “Who wants [to sign] a handsome nice guy like you with such a bizarre hairdo as what you got?
“Get to the barbers,” she wrote, recommending a local Black shop in Madison. “And get all cleaned up with a nice haircut and [side-burn] trim and [professional] appearance — then for sure you will get picked to be on a pro basketball team looking better and more classy for their team and community.”
Madden felt Hayes, who has been racially targeted in the past, could “set [an] example” by “not only getting your nice college diploma — but [getting] a good appearance.”
Hayes’ teammate, guard Zak Showalter, who is white, also received an email from Madden, who praised his haircut and asked to get more information to share with her brother.
— Zak Showalter (@ZShowbball333) May 17, 2017
As a result of the racist email, many fans supported Hayes.
— Jamal Curry (@Murray_4MVP) May 17, 2017
@NIGEL_HAYES *shakes dreads for the culture*
— King of Wakanda (@southerngent26) May 17, 2017
@NIGEL_HAYES 1st of all, congrats on graduating! Furthermore your natural hair is wonderful. At last check the NBA wanted ballers not Paul Mitchel.
— Anita (@ChgoCookkie) May 18, 2017
@NIGEL_HAYES Rock dem locs. I wish I kept mine. Also it’s a sign of patience. Do you.. do well!
— Quentin Smithers (@Que_Roca) May 17, 2017
@NIGEL_HAYES don’t ever cut your hair, it rocks!
— Michele Weisman (@ottogrl) May 17, 2017
UW-Madison also shared its support.
— UW-Madison (@UWMadison) May 17, 2017