A senior attending Cathedral High School in Greenwood, Indiana was taunted during a basketball game on Friday night for having epilepsy.
“It didn’t hit me at first. Like last night it didn’t hit me. But this morning, I woke up and was thinking hard and had a lot on my mind and started crying a lot. I cried… I’m still really down about this,” high school senior James Franklin Jr. told WISH-TV.
Franklin has experienced several epileptic seizures since birth and underwent brain surgery in 2017 to help with his condition. The teen made his way back to the basketball court on Nov. 30, for his second season to play against Center Grove High School. However, the game took an unfortunate turn.
The high school senior was shooting a free throw during the first half of the game when a student from the opposing team threw himself on the floor and began shaking on the floor. The student seemingly tried to mock a seizure gesture toward Franklin.
“He has to overcome a lot of insecurities in his life,” said Franklin’s mother, Tamieka Franklin. “It has had a huge impact on him.”
Tamieka said her son heard Center Grove students shout at him, “Have another seizure, have another seizure.”
“It didn’t really hit us until we went to dinner after the game,” Tamieka told the Indy Star. “It was like, ‘Did that really happen?’ Did they really mock a young man who has overcome a disability to play the sport he loves? My hope is that it shines on a light on what he has overcome.”
A video of the fan taunting James Jr. went viral on social media and has since been removed from Twitter. Tamieka said the student seen in the video apologized to her son after the game but didn’t seem sincere at all.
“One of the parents had gone and gotten the kid and was like ‘Hey, that was not acceptable… do you know what he’s been through?’ The kid was like ‘Oh yeah, I’m sorry,'” she said.
The Epilepsy Foundation of Indiana denounced the Center Grove’s student’s behavior on Saturday, December 1, in support of James Jr.
“We are outraged that someone in our epilepsy community would be made fun of in this manner. Seizures are not a laughing matter… James is an epilepsy warrior that should be celebrated not mocked. … We are contacting both schools to discuss the matter and offer our free epilepsy trainings for school personnel and students.”
Center Grove released the following statement on Saturday:
“We are working collaboratively with the administrative staff and athletic department at Cathedral to address these issues. Our goal is to always create an environment where sportsmanship and quality competition can thrive. We do not condone any behavior intended to mock, disparage or humiliate any player or student.”
Take a look at the footage below: