A rendition of the US anthem sung at a basketball game by an 11-year-old Mariachi singer sparked a racism-tinged online response that was quickly crushed by the boy's supporters.
Sebastien de la Cruz -- known as "El Charro de Oro," or the boy with the golden voice in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas -- was invited to sing "The Star Spangled Banner" at one of seven National Basketball Association championship games.
Although Sebastien hit every note of the notoriously tricky song as the San Antonio Spurs prepared to take on the Miami Heat late Tuesday, some Internet users apparently were offended by his ethnic appearance.
A Tumblr site, called "Public Shaming" captured some of the ugliest comments, prompting a mass outpouring of support for de la Cruz that embarrassed some offenders into shuttering their Twitter accounts.
Some said after the fact that they'd had a change of heart.
"I am sorry for the racist comment I recently posted during the nba finals game. Due to the comments, I have changed my views," wrote @bdub597, who goes by THE_GREAT_WHITE.
He had been castigated for writing: "Can't believe they had the nerve to have a beaner sing the national anthem of AMERICA."
San Antonio is 63 percent Hispanic, but that didn't prevent others from expressing outrage that a "Mexican" or "illegal alien" was singing "our" anthem.
De la Cruz, who previously been a finalist on the "America's Got Talent" reality show, and is the son of a US Navy veteran, thanked his supporters and dismissed his online critics.
"I don't really care about what y'all say, and I am doing this right now," he said as he brushed his shoulders with his hands -- a gesture popular among young people, meant to show indifference or disdain.
"To be honest, it's just the people how they were raised," he told reporters Wednesday.
"My father and my mother told me that you should never judge people by how they look. You should judge them on the inside. And the saying that I go by is 'never judge a book by its cover," the boy said.
The Spurs responded by inviting him back to sing ahead of Game Four to be played later Thursday, local media reported.