BOSTON (CBS) — Simone Biles’ decision to remove herself from the Olympic gymnastics team competition on Tuesday welcomed a firestorm  of reaction across the sports world. The 24-year-old — who removed herself from competition so that she could “focus on her mental health,” as USA Gymnastics explained — received plenty of support and praise, but also quite a bit of criticism from some in the media.

Celtics star Jayson Tatum — just 23 years old himself — could certainly empathize to some extent with the level of criticism being heaped upon Biles. And after seeing one critical video in particular, Tatum jumped to defend Biles, referring to her as a hero.

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“Is it that hard to be supportive and empathetic to what others are going through?” Tatum tweeted. “This is someone’s daughter and her health [you’re] referring to. Wonder if he has kids and how he would feel as a parent someone talking about his kids this way. Cause I’d be DAMNED. Simone is a hero!”

Tatum was responding to a video by conservative talk show host Charlie Kirk, who referred to Biles as “weak,” “immature,” a “selfish sociopath,” and “a shame to the country.”

Tatum, an NBA All-Star the past two seasons, is in Tokyo competing for Team USA basketball. He scored 14 points with four rebounds and two assists in the United States’ 120-66 win over Iran on Wednesday.

After sending the tweet, Tatum was asked by The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn what inspired him to come to Biles’ defense.

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“From a perspective of a parent, I could only imagine if my son [Deuce] was on a public stage like that and dealing with mental health issues and problems of [his] own and wanted to get help for that. Seeing someone degrade and ridicule your child, like I feel like that would make anybody angry and feel some type of way. From that stance, that why I said what I said,”  Tatum told the Globe. “I saw [the reaction] on Twitter, and it made me angry. And I felt like I wanted to say something.”

CBSBoston.com Staff