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Posted on Jan 7, 2016

A Cancer Survivor Became A Meme After People Compared Him To Stephen Curry

"It was a little bit embarrassing, humiliating, and a bit hurtful at the same time," Mitchell told BuzzFeed.

This is Leon Mitchell II, a 31-year-old man living in Tacoma, Washington. He's a survivor of a rare form of cancer called nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

Mitchell told BuzzFeed that he was diagnosed in 2005 at the age of 20 and described his diagnosis as a type of "head and neck cancer."

In December of 2015, people began using a photo of Mitchell on social media with the caption "Meth Curry," and an unpleasant meme was born.


The meme materialized after people compared Mitchell's thin neck area with the frail frame of longtime users of methamphetamine, and his resemblance to basketball player Stephen Curry.

Stacy Revere / Getty Images

Stephen Curry pictured on the right

The memes were rampant on social media, but they flourished on Twitter especially.


Mitchell told BuzzFeed that when he found out about the meme, he described his feeling as being "a little bit embarrassing, humiliating, and a bit hurtful at the same time."

Courtesy of Leon Mitchell II

He continued: "I've struggled for years and still do from time to time with my outward physical appearance. I was confused as to how it even made its way onto the internet honestly."

After finding out, Mitchell took to Instagram to post a heartfelt message.

Leon Mitchell II / Via

The text reads: "So earlier today I was the butt of a not-so-funny meme — 'Meth Curry.' Directed at the outward physical appearance that I display. The fact that the meme was posted was a reminder of how distasteful and cruel people can be without background knowledge of the person in the bullseye of the target. I've struggled deeply for years with the devastating effects cancer treatment plagued my body with. The massive destruction it took on my neck, shoulders, nose, throat, and ability to function normally... I am more then a meme, I am a father, husband, survivor, mentor, community advocate, and Positive motivational speaker. Proud to have endured and conquered everything I have!"

Since his Instagram post, Mitchell has received support from people warning others about sharing photos on social media without context.

Yall need to think about other people feeling before yall try to be funny for retweets

For those of you who think the #MethCurry meme is funny over a cancer survivor's likeness to @StephenCurry30. #KNOE

Rapper Fabolous shared Mitchell's Instagram post on his Facebook page.

Facebook: myfabolouslife

"The thing that I think is most important to tell people (is that) the effects these types of things can have on a person is monumental!" Mitchell told Buzzfeed.

Facebook / Via Facebook: Nigel

"It's very easy to post something with no prior knowledge or understanding about someone or something for laughs but at the expense of who and what?? We have to learn more empathy, compassion, and kindness honestly."

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