Sebastien De La Cruz's performance of the national anthem at Game 3 of the NBA finals on Tuesday, June 11, should have been one of the best moments of his young life. But while he was greeted with applause inside the arena, the reaction on Twitter wasn't as kind, with some basketball fans unleashing racist comments about the 11-year-old singer's heritage -- he's Mexican-American -- and his outfit -- a mariachi costume.
Sebastien, a San Antonio native who first gained fame on America's Got Talent last season, was asked to sing at the Spurs game after country star Darius Rucker had to cancel. He took the court confidently and delivered a spirited, patriotic version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" -- at one point gesturing proudly to the American flag -- but still some Twitter users slammed him as an "illegal" (among other things).
"There should be an AMERICAN singing the national anthem not this illegal," one person wrote on Twitter.
Added another: "No disrespect but a Mexican kid signing [sic] the national anthem makes it unamerican. #nothappy #americansforamerica."
The comments sparked an even bigger outrage from fans of the talented Texan, but Sebastien himself doesn't seem bothered. "I think the people were talking bad because of what I was wearing, and it's not my fault," he told a local ABC News station. "It's what I love, and I'm just proud to be a mariachi singer. It's their opinion, actually, and if they don't like mariachi, that's their problem. But I love it."
"I'm a proud American and I live in a free country," he added in an interview with CNN. "It's not hurting me. It's just your opinion."
Juan De La Cruz, Sebastien's dad, is similarly unfazed. "When he was on America's Got Talent, he faced racism there, too. You can't satisfy everyone," De La Cruz told CNN.
"It doesn't make sense to listen to those people when most of the feedback we have gotten is positive," he continued. "San Antonio supports Sebastien."