Celebrities are rallying in support of a bullied boy who bared his soul in a video posted online by his mother on the day he went home from school early because he was too scared to go to lunch.
Keaton Jones, who lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, asked his mother to film the emotional video of him sitting in the car after she took him out of school following yet another awful experience with bullies.
In the video, he asks: "Why do you enjoy taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them? It's not okay."
Explaining what the bullies do to him, Keaton said: "They make fun of my nose, they call me ugly, they say I have no friends." At lunch they poured milk on him, threw bread at him and put ham down his clothes, he added. Other children at his school are also bullied, a fact which made him visibly upset.
Keaton finished: "It's not okay. people that are different don't need to be criticised about it, it's not their fault. If you are made fun of just don't let it bother you, stay strong. It will probably get better one day."
The video was posted on Facebook by Keaton's mum Kimberly, who wrote: "For the record, Keaton asked to do this AFTER he had he me pick him up AGAIN because he was afraid to go to lunch. My kids are by no stretch perfect, & at home, he's as all boy as they come, but by all accounts he's good at school. Talk to your kids. I've even had friends of mine tell me they're kids were only nice to him to get him to mess with people. We all know how it feels to want to belong, but only a select few know how it really feels not to belong anywhere."
Since the video was posted on Friday (8 December), it has been shared hundreds of thousands of times including by numerous celebrities who shared messages of support for Keaton.
Millie Bobby Brown, best known as Eleven in Stranger Things, told Keaton she thinks he's 'freakin awesome' and said she wanted to be his friend, while actress Eva Longoria told him he was "brave and beautiful just as you are". And UFC heavyweight reigning champion Stipe Miocic said he had Keaton's back, telling him "say the word and I'm there".
And the messages kept coming. Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo, aka Captain America and The Hulk, both invited Keaton to the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War in 2018. Evans said: "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?"
Hours later, Ruffalo added: "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."
It looked as though the invitation would be taken up, as Evans and Keaton's sister, Lakyn, began exchanging messages. Some other celebrities, including Hailee Steinfeld, began tweeting Lakyn directly for her to pass on messages of support to her brother. Lakyn said: "We thank everyone for the love and support."
Snoop Dogg shared the video on Instagram, saying Keaton had a friend in him "for life," while Ryan Seacrest told him: "Your curiosity and kindness will overcome this moment and bring you many better days to come."
Justin Bieber credited the "sympathy and compassion" Keaton showed for other people who were being bullied. "This kid is all time, he's a legend," he added.
See some of the celebrities' messages of support below: