Is Omar the Ref alive? BBC News article death claim debunked

Alleged BBC News article about Omar the Ref
Alleged BBC News article about Omar the Ref's death has been debunked. (Image via TikTok/@drropl)

Omar the Ref or Omar the Referee, a basketball referee who went viral on TikTok, is rumored to be dead. However, there has been no confirmation to prove the credibility of this claim.

One of the TikTok videos that started these rumors shows a post by BBC News on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter. The post, dated August 9, 2023, which also had a photo of a man attached to it, read:

“Famous ‘Omar the Referee’ commits suicide aged 47.”
Alleged BBC News' post about Omar's death. (Image via X/@DwayneDaban)
Alleged BBC News' post about Omar's death. (Image via X/@DwayneDaban)

One TikTok account that fueled the rumor is surprisingly verified, and it posted two photos reporting Omar’s death. In one photo, there is a gravestone that reads:

“Tyrone Johnson 1963 - 2023, he was such a happy person.”

The second photo is of a male lying on a hospital bed, but his face is not clearly visible. As per these unverified speculations, Omar took the decision to die by suicide due to being cyberbullied after he gained fame on TikTok.

It is important to note that the verified TikTok account that shared those two photos regarding Omar's death only started posting on the platform three days ago. Thus, the account is likely a fake, as is the questionable claim that it made about Omar.


BBC News article about Omar the Ref's death is fake

The official X account of BBC News has not made any posts about Omar since August 9. Apart from that, the profile picture of BBC News shown in the viral TikTok video is a false one, as it does not match the legitimate profile picture of the original account of BBC News on X.

The 'BBC' in its logo is written in Comic Sans font while the word "News" is missing. Moreover, the logo used a contrast of black and white ink color and background, while the real BBC News logo on X features a red and white contrast.

BBC News article about Omar's death is fake. (Image via X/@keofblskck)
BBC News article about Omar's death is fake. (Image via X/@keofblskck)

No other credible news or media outlet has reported on the matter nor has there been any official announcement of Omar's death from any of his family members or friends. Thus, it can be safely concluded that the rumor about Omar the Ref being dead is one of the many death hoaxes circulating on the internet.

Some people who figured out that these rumors were false got mad and asked others to stop spreading misinformation.

Omar the Ref is not dead. (Image via X/@Layzer02)
Omar the Ref is not dead. (Image via X/@Layzer02)


How did Omar the Ref become famous?

Omar, who is from Baltimore, Maryland, went viral on social media in April 2023 after an audience member captured him catching a basketball quite dramatically during a youth basketball game. He effortlessly caught the ball, slowly turned to the camera, and posed.

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The match took place at Manheim’s Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Pennsylvania. The internet quickly got intrigued by the basketball referee and started reposting the original video. Some edits and memes were also made based on the video, and Omar became an internet sensation.

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Edited by Babylona Bora