HIV-positive man kicked out of basketball rec league
When 21-year-old Dakota Basinger, an aspiring musician, was hit with some of the worst news of his life, he turned to music to share the news and express his emotions like he's done so many times in the past.
His latest song entitled “My Best Friend” that he posted on YouTube contained a surprise ending: “Results back he has HIV and my best friend was me."
Then Basinger was hit again. The second time it was while he was playing in the last game of the season of the Kissimmee City Parks and Rec League at Denn John Middle School.
"(A) guy approached me, works for the city, came up to me, he said, 'Are you HIV-positive?,” said Basinger. “I said, 'Why?' He was like, 'You're not allowed to play in the game, in the league.'"
"I asked the guy, 'Are you educated on this?'" said Dakota's mom, Lisa Basinger. "He said, 'No, but I'm doing this because the City of Kissimmee wants me to take him out of the game.' I said, 'Who is the city?' He didn't have an answer."
City of Kissimmee Manager of Communications and Public Information Arin Thrower told Local 6 that the worker was specifically told not to approach Basinger.
"On Sunday, April 13, 2014, a part-time Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities employee with the City of Kissimmee acted independently and without supervisor approval, when he removed a participant from a city recreational basketball game due to a medical condition,” said Thrower. “The city has taken corrective action to ensure this does not happen in the future.”
"They said that, you know, we don't want other people getting it,” said Dakota Basinger. “Well, you obviously don't know much about HIV.”
"It's ignorance, total ignorance," said Lisa Basinger. "How can you be this ignorant in 2014? I mean, we're not back in the '80s. You cannot catch this from casual contact, from playing basketball, or sweat, or spit, or anything like that.”
Thrower said the worker is still employed with the city but that his status is currently under review.
Thrower said city supervisors called both Dakota and Lisa Basinger to apologize and invite the 21-year-old back to any and all city sports leagues and classes.
“They could apologize all they want but the humiliation I had to go through, I'm already going through enough being diagnosed a week ago,” said Dakota Basinger.
The Basingers said they'd contacted an attorney in South Florida and are considering suing the city. They promised that any money won in a lawsuit would be donated to HIV awareness organizations.