Mother responds to backlash over viral image of her hugging teenage son at his football game

A mother has defended herself after she received backlash over the way she hugged her son in a video uploaded to her social media.

Amber Wright, from Utah, celebrated her teenager, Brixton, with a warm embrace after his football game and posted their loving interaction on Instagram. The video, published on 18 August and filmed by the single mom’s best friend, attracted more commentary than Wright imagined. Her following grew from 1,900 to 19,000 just from the one post.

The footage showed the 38-year-old woman being held in the air by her 16-year-old son as she wrapped her legs around his waist. Wright had her face buried in her son’s neck for a few seconds before he placed her back down on her feet. Her caption read: “This boy will forever and always have my entire heart... When I walked up to hug my baby boy after his game, he immediately picked me up and just held me.”

Speaking to Today, the proud mom said: “One of my best friends recorded the moment where Brix picked me up and I thought it was so cute.”

However, she said she never expected the reaction to the video, which included criticism from viewers who’d accused her of being “inappropriate” with her son.

“I was a proud mom hugging her kid,” she explained. “I never expected it to turn into something where people are like:‘You’re sexually abusing him! You’re grooming him! I’m calling child protective services.’”

With more than nine million views and 7,276 comments, Wright’s innocent moment with her offspring transpired into ridicule of their relationship.

“I’m a single mom and very close to my sons. I hug them in public without hesitation - but straddling them in high heels would cross a line neither of us would be comfortable with,” one critic wrote, while another said: “Oh you’re one of THOSE moms..”

“It would’ve been cute if it was his girlfriend, but not a mother,” another Instagram user pointed out, while someone else said: “A bit much there Mom… keep your feet on the ground things will be fine.”

Amid the hateful remarks, a few supportive online users have taken it upon themselves to message Wright privately, she said. Some kind-hearted mothers offered backing on her post too.

“I’m a single mom of a boy. After going through breast cancer, I believe my son would do this to me too at a football game bc we are very close. My son and I are like best friends. Happy to see a strong mom and son connection,” one woman added.

While speaking to Today, Wright expressed her feelings of discontent and sorrow over the negative reactions to her video. “I come from a very affectionate family. I hug my dad every time I see him,” she told the outlet. “What you saw on the football field is just how we are. Brix will pick me up and squeeze me and then put me back down.”

She acknowledged how upset Brixton was as well. The high schooler took matters in his own hands when he commented on his mom’s post to defend her. “How abt you leave my mom alone,” he proclaimed. “She’s never abused me done anything sexual with me or my friends or groomed me. She’s my mom she is my hero the vid of us hugging was a HUG.”

He continued: “Go bother someone else and maybe hug your own kids. You all need Jesus damn.”

Brixton’s long embrace was not only a congratulatory act, but a memorial one as well. Wright explained to Today that her son’s prolonged grip was emotional as he hadn’t put his jersey on since his father passed away on 4 April.

“He was feeling emotional, and I think as his mom, I’m his safe space,” Wright noted.

Following the initial reactions, she waited for the right time to respond to all the hate. Four weeks ago, Wright spoke up in the comments section.

“For those who clearly are disturbed and have their minds in the gutter about this video, allow me to offer some clarification,” she began. “1. My son PICKED ME UP and this video was captured toward the end; I did not jump on him. 2. He and I do have a close and HEALTHY relationship. If you were lose your father to suicide due to alcoholism at the young age of 15, I would hope you would have a mother to be close with.”

“My son is a 4.0 student, an athlete, doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs and has never been in trouble. Just try to get on my level as a completely single mother, I dare you,” she went one. “4. If you see something wrong with a boy wanting to pick up and hold his mom after a rather intense football game, maybe ask yourself what in the hell is wrong with you that your mind goes there.”

The Independent has contacted Wright for a comment.