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Coach benched for calling Whitney Houston the N-word on Facebook

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston

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Updated: March 25, 2012 8:20AM

An Oak Lawn man was suspended Monday as president of a youth baseball organization after using the “n”-word in a posting about the death of singer Whitney Houston on his Facebook page.

John Kelly said Wednesday that his life has been “ruined” by the repercussions from the posting. He said he’s not a racist and did not realize he had posted the word. His comment was reposted to the Westside Baseball of Oak Lawn Facebook page.

His Facebook post read, in part, “I’m so sick of reading about this dumb stupid N - - - - - Whitney Houston.”

“I didn’t even realize I put it in until after I sent it,” he said.

Kelly said his Facebook page is restricted to adult friends and family, but a former player’s mother saw his comment and reposted it on her Facebook page and on the league’s page.

The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she reposted Kelly’s remark so other parents would know about it. “If this is the way he talks, what is he thinking when he has a black kid in the field?” she said. Kelly said he apologized to her last week.

Kelly said he suggested that he attend sensitivity training classes. But he said it still will be difficult to change the perception that he is a racist. “I don’t need this drama in my life. It’s going to affect me hugely, and my business,” said Kelly, a self-employed tradesman. He said his children will be exposed to taunts that he’s a racist.

Kelly will continue as a member of the league’s board, but he is banned from coaching for one year. Acting President Jim Hebel said the board struggled with how to handle the situation. “He’s wrong. He knows it. He apologized,” Hebel said. “How you deal with it is up for debate.”

Kelly added Wednesday that Houston shouldn’t be a role model for kids and that he especially resented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s order to lower flags to half-staff at state buildings on the day of Houston’s funeral.

“I do stand behind everything I said except the ‘n’-word. I regret using that adjective,” he said. “Does that make me a racist? Are you kidding me? It was the farthest thing from my mind. I have some amazing friends who are black.”

Bob Rakow, Sun-Times Media

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