KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Keaton Jones has a lot of new friends.
Among them: UFC President Dana White, Captain America actor Chris Evans, Dr. Phil, Millie Bobby Brown aka "Eleven" from Stranger Things, Fox News host Sean Hannity, rapper Snoop Dogg, a slew of professional athletes in various sports, and countless people on the Internet, apparently.
Keaton, a student at Horace Maynard Middle School in Maynardville in Union County, Tenn., sparked a national conversation about bullying after a video of him went viral over the weekend.
Keaton's mother, Kimberly Jones, filmed him crying in the passenger seat of a vehicle after she said she picked him up from school "AGAIN" because he was afraid to go to lunch. "Keaton asked to do this," Jones wrote in a Facebook post.
In the video, Keaton said other students made fun of the way he looks, poured milk on him, put ham down his clothes and said he had no friends.
"People that are different don't need to be criticized about it," Keaton said. "It's not their fault. But if you are made fun of, just don't let it bother you. Stay strong I guess. It's hard. But it'll probably get better one day."
That day might just be today.
As of Sunday evening, Keaton's video had more than 18.5 million views and had been shared more than 369,000 times on Facebook. His message resonated with an eclectic mix of celebrities, who responded by condemning bullying, sharing their own experiences and lauding Keaton for his courage.
Jones nor Union County school officials could be reached for comment.
Jarrett Guarantano, a University of Tennessee Vols quarterback, tweeted a picture with his "new best bud" on Sunday evening.
"So I got the chance to spend the day with my new best bud Keaton," Guarantano wrote. "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."
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
Dana White said he wants to bring Keaton to Las Vegas to hang out at UFC headquarters. In a video posted to the official UFC Twitter account, various fighters spoke about bullying and offered words of support to Keaton.
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
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
In a tweet, the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., called Keaton "incredibly brave" and said he "would be honored" to host Keaton and his family if they 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
Chris Evans invited Keaton and his mom to the premiere of the new Avengers movie in Los Angeles next year.
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
Sean Hannity said he wants to fly Keaton and his parents to New York City to visit Fox News.
If someone can get to me the name of the school, the principal, school board members i will gladly make the calls myself and fix this. Also if anyone knows Keaton and his parents, i will gladly fly them to NYC to be my guest & visit Fox News. https://t.co/uFyp2r2Yn7— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) December 10, 2017
Walking Dead actor Tom Payne invited Keaton to a "Walker Stalker Con" show in Nashville.
Hey #KeatonJones Just saw your video about the tough time you're going through. Not sure if you're a Walking Dead fan but if it happens that you are then please be in touch as I would love to see you and your family @WalkrStalkrCon show in Nashville next year. On me. X— Tom Payne (@justanactor) December 10, 2017
The outpouring of support went on and on.
Keaton, this is so accurate. Why do people do this? I think your sooo cool Keaton! I wanna be your friend ( but srsly) ur freakin awesome ❤️ https://t.co/LD7Q762bL9— Millie Bobby Brown (@milliebbrown) December 9, 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
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