James Franklin Jr. was standing at the free throw line and preparing to shoot when the high school basketball player says he began to realize people were mocking him for being epileptic.
The high school senior says he saw a student thrashing on the ground and pretending to have a seizure, RTV6 reported.
Other students had been yelling, “Have another seizure, have another seizure” during the game, his mom, Tamieka Franklin, recalled to The Indianapolis Star. It happened during a Friday night game between Cathedral High School, which Franklin plays for, and Center Grove High School.
Franklin said the taunting “didn’t hit me at first,” according to WISTV.
“Like last night it didn’t hit me,” he told the TV station. “But this morning, I woke up and was thinking hard and had a lot on my mind and started crying a lot. I cried.”
Franklin says his seizures, which led him to get surgery and take up to 11 medications a day at one point, should not be fodder for jokes. Seizures have been an issue for Franklin since he was in eighth grade, his mom told WISTV.
“If they knew what it is like to not be able to drive,” Franklin told RTV6. “Not to be able to go anywhere by yourself, be left alone, can’t even use the restroom without closing the door. You wouldn’t make a mockery of such a thing.”
After the incident, Franklin shared a video of the incident on Twitter, where it has amassed more than 400,000 views and 1,000 retweets. It shows a male student yelling on the court — and then rolling on the ground in a frantic and erratic manner.
Franklin’s mother, Tamieka, said the full gravity of the situation “didn’t really hit us until we went to dinner after the game,” according to The Indianapolis Star. She added that the student who feigned a seizure has since said he was sorry..
“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?” she asked the newspaper. “My hope is that it shines ... a light on what he has overcome.”
Last December, Franklin and some teammates played in a game called “Sink Seizures” that aimed to help those with epilepsy, according to Fox59. The game, which took place the same year he had part of his brain surgically removed, was important for Franklin.
“They know that I have epilepsy and I’m still playing sports, like basketball,” the teen said last December, according to Fox59. “Everybody is just saying that they want to come out and show that they really care.”
A day after the game — which Center Grove won 63-60 — the high school tweeted an apology for how Franklin was treated.
Jason Delaney, the basketball coach for Cathedral High School, told The Indianapolis Star that “my hope is that something good can come from” the unfortunate situation.
In her interview with WISTV, Tamieka Franklin said she hopes the mocking chant teaches fans how not to treat an opposing player.
“When you go away from the players and you start attacking their character and their disabilities,” she told WISTV, “that’s way past the line.”