MMA fighter calls viral bullying video a 'scam'
In a heartbreaking video, middle school student Keaton Jones describes his painful experiences getting bullied. "Just out of curiosity, why do they bully?" he pleads. "What's the point of it? Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them? It's not okay".
With tears rolling down his cheeks, he shares his distressful story. At school, bullies call him ugly and say he has no friends. Sometimes the torment turns physical, and they pour milk on him, or shove "ham down his clothes." “I don’t like that they do it to me," he says, while sobbing. “People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it. It’s not their fault.”
Keaton's mother, Kimberly Jones, posted the video on Facebook, and it got over 20 million views. Celebrities, athletes and public figures rallied to support the Tennessee boy. Chris Evans invited him to the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War. Hailee Steinfeld invited him to be her date at the premiere of Pitch Perfect 3. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano spent the day with Keaton, calling him his "new best bud." Mark Hamill, Millie Bobby Brown, Gal Gadot, Snoop Dogg - pretty much every famous person - tweeted messages of support.
However, this being 2017, the backlash came quickly. Internet detectives combed through Kimberly Jones' posts on social media, and found offensive, potentially racist content, such as photos displaying Confederate flags and crass critiques of Colin Kaepernick's protest against police brutality.
Rumors spread that kids bullied Keaton because he called them racial slurs, and many people pointed out Kimberly's hypocrisy. “My heart goes out to anyone dealing with bullying, but wassup with the racist images on Keaton Jones' mom's facebook page? Wouldn't that kinda make her a bully too?” tweeted actor Slink Johnson. But the best response came from comedian Billy Eichner: "Well I'm inviting Keaton to the Golden Globes and making him sit with the cast of Get Out."
But perhaps the most disturbing revelation came from MMA fighter Joe Schilling. He contacted Kimberly Jones on Instagram (or at least, an account purporting to be Kimberly Jones). He invited Keaton to one of his shows - man, this kid is popular! - but the response was not what he expected. He shared a video on Instagram describing their interaction, with the caption: "Go look at her ig watch her story posts she just running a money scam. Really really sad and disgusting. Tagging celebrities trying to get them to donate to her go fund me account smfh."
"I feel pretty stupid right now," says Joe in the video. "I was pretty moved by Keaton Jones video so I reached out to his mom and was going to bring him out to LA for a Bellator event that's coming up, big show, and and introduce him to fighters, be his friend, and she just wants money. She just wants me to share her GoFund me account." When he asked what the GoFundMe account was for, she replied, "You know Christmas is coming and I'm a single mother, blah, blah, money's tight."
The GoFundMe account in Kimberly Jones' name received $58,000 in donations, but is currently suspended. It's not clear if it was legitimate. Fox News contacted Kimberly through direct message on Instagram, and she disputed Schilling's claims, calling his accusations "untrue."
"I did not tell him that I would rather have donations instead of the help from celebrities," wrote Kimberly. When asked why she took down her Facebook page, Kimberly simply replied, "I've taken that down for a reason," but did not elaborate on what the reason was. (I'm guessing it had something to do with all those photos of Confederate flags and "Dear Butt Hurt Americans" rants?)
According to Fox News, Kimberly wrote a message defending her family on her Instagram account (which has since been deleted):"I love my kids: Ya'll people do not know me or my family. Did y'all know that my son Keaton was spit on in school, picked on by teachers, that supposed to be there for him??? I'm guessing y'all didn't because y'all wanna steady Judge me and say I'm using him for money that's false."
This situation got messy in a hurry, but at least it brought attention to the serious issue of bullying.