A Tennessee boy’s sad tale of being tormented at the hands of middle school bullies went viral over the weekend and the support that is pouring in for him from all across America — including some very high places — is enough to restore your faith in humanity and warm the cockles of your heart.
Kimberly Jones posted a heartbreaking video on Facebook Friday of her son Keaton talking about the bullying he’s had to endure at Horace Maynard Middle School in Maynardville, Tenn., and the post prompted a wave of support from athletes, entertainers and even the son of the president.
Jones said that she had to pick Keaton up from school that day “again” because he was too afraid to go to lunch.
“We all know how it feels to want to belong, but only a select few know how it really feels not to belong anywhere,” she wrote.
“They make fun of my nose. They call me ugly. They say I have no friends,” Keaton told his mom in the video while tears rolled down his cheeks. “Why do they bully? What’s the point of it?”
Kimberly asked what they did to him at lunch. “Poured milk on me and put hands down my clothes, threw food at me,” Keaton cried.
The video is tough to watch.
The video now has over 21 million views and support for Keaton has been rolling in from the political, entertainment and sports worlds.
Keaton, will you’ve my guest at the Premiere of #InfinityWar too? I think you are about one of the coolest kids I have ever seen! Can’t wait to meet you in person, pal. Forget those ignorant kids. One day, very soon, they are going to feel pretty stupid for this. https://t.co/BqJLxu25GN
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) December 11, 2017
keaton, i'm so sorry you're being treated this way. you don't deserve one ounce of this pain. they would be 💫lucky💫 to be friends with you. it'll get better. #KeatonJones #KeatonJonesIsAwesome https://t.co/IZoJQ60eY2
— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) December 10, 2017
— Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest) December 10, 2017
I love him—— To Keaton Jones …you are a totally amazing person with a great future ahead of you! Don’t let ANY unhappy person bring you down!! I support u- let’s END BULLYING!!!! Sending ❤️to you !!!
— Carnie Wilson (@CarnieWilson) December 10, 2017
Actor Chris Evans invited Keaton to next year’s Los Angeles premiere of Avengers: Infinity War:
Stay strong, Keaton. Don’t let them make you turn cold. I promise it gets better. While those punks at your school are deciding what kind of people they want to be in this world, how would you and your mom like to come to the Avengers premiere in LA next year? https://t.co/s1QwCQ3toi
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) December 10, 2017
Twenty-year-old actress Hailee Steinfeld asked Keaton out on a date. “I would love you — Keaton Jones — to be my date for the Pitch Perfect III premiere on Tuesday and if you would like to go, D.M. me so we can start planning your trip!” Steinfeld proposed in a video she posted on Twitter. “I hope to see you there,” she added, blowing him a kiss.
— Hailee Steinfeld (@HaileeSteinfeld) December 10, 2017
Some of the most heartwarming thoughts and prayers poured in from the sports world.
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker invited the Jones family to an upcoming game:
— Delanie Walker (@delaniewalker82) December 9, 2017
And University of Tennessee wide receiver Tyler Byrd said he and some of his teammates would be visiting Keaton at school.
We going to the middle school next Tuesday show young Man some love we will also TWITTER LIVE some of it so everyone can show there love and support #vols #StopBullying @cboystunna3 @BroadwayJay2 @JKShuttlesworth @smithtrey98
— Tyler Byrd (@D1fuzzymuffin17) December 9, 2017
Light Heavyweight Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champ Daniel Cormier also had some very kind and encouraging words:
Hey, #KeatonJones – you have friends here at the UFC, buddy. Today and everyday. #StandWithKeaton @Lakyn_Jones | @DC_MMA @TWooodley @FelderPaul @SugaRashadEvans @KennyFlorian pic.twitter.com/ZxX0cY1bu7
— UFC (@ufc) December 10, 2017
Former Green Bay Packer Bernard Baker shared this incredibly sweet message on Twitter:
— Bernard Blake (@BamBam_Blake23) December 10, 2017
Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano tried to get in touch with the boy’s family on Saturday because “Keaton has some friends on the football team that would love to spend some time with him.”
Please let his mother know that we are trying to reach out. Keaton has some friends on the football team that would love to spend some time with him. https://t.co/tj1ZqDM4KD
— Jarrett Guarantano✞ (@BroadwayJay2) December 9, 2017
Guarantano was a star football player at Bergen Catholic high school in Northern New Jersey before graduating in 2016.
The big-hearted quarterback was able to make the connection with the Jones family and spent the day with Keaton on Sunday. He posed for a photo with his “new best bud” and posted it on Twitter.
So I got the chance to spend the day with my new best bud Keaton. It was unbelievable to get to know him and realize that we have a lot in common. This dude is very special and has changed my life forever. Now I have the little brother I always wanted! God bless you my man pic.twitter.com/vMHVtnf2rC
— Jarrett Guarantano✞ (@BroadwayJay2) December 11, 2017
UFC owner Dana White invited Keaton and his family to Las Vegas and “hang out at UFC Headquarters.”
Meet Keaton Jones a very smart little boy who is being bullied at school. This video is heartbreaking!! I want to bring Keaton to Vegas and hang out at UFC Headquarters. If anyone knows how i can reach the family please let me know. Thank u everyone pic.twitter.com/BR8c4ldDFc
— Dana White (@danawhite) December 10, 2017
Seeing that, Donald Trump Jr. offered Keaton and his family a place to stay in Las Vegas should they decide to take White up on his offer.
This boy is incredibly brave and the video really got to me. @danawhite, If he takes you up on your offer to see UFC Headquarters, I would be honored to host him and his family at our place if they need somewhere to stay. https://t.co/EWx05o0yI0
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) December 11, 2017
It looks like young Keaton’s social calendar is going to be filled for the next few weeks. But even better than that, I suspect his classmates have gotten the message and his days of being bullied are pretty much over. Keaton, without a doubt, has the coolest friends at school.
And if he decides to take White up on his offer to go to Las Vegas and check out the UFC, perhaps he’ll pick up some useful self-defense tricks, too.