I swear to God a saw an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit with this exact premise. (And if it didn’t happen yet, I bet it will.)
A 16-year-old high school basketball player is at the center of a scandal in Texas, where some adults insist the kid is actually 22-year-old Guerdwich Montimere, who graduated from Fort Lauderdale’s Dillard High School in 2007. Montimere was well known in his time as a high school ballplayer, having helped lead Dillard to the semi-finals and being named a McDonald’s All American nominee. Now some coaches who played with Montimere are insisting that Jerry Joseph is Guerdwich Montimere, indisputably so.
Coaches from South Florida Cedric Smith and Louis Vives, who saw Joseph at a recent game, remain unconvinced that there is any chance he isn’t Guerdwich Montimere:
“I’m 100 percent sure. I would bet my paycheck,” Smith told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
“We saw him. We’ve known Guerdwich since he was in seventh or eighth grade. The mannerisms were him. It doesn’t make sense. They have to do more investigations for me,” Smith told the newspaper.
Joseph denied that he was Montimere when he spoke with Vives at the tournament.
“It was shocking, and the question at hand was just why,” Vives told USA Today. “When I approached him, I just wanted to know what was going on. The surprised look on his face gave it away that it was him. … Once he saw a Florida team and players and coaches who knew him, the look on his face was like, ‘Wow, what am I into now?’ “
While Vives and Smith are sure, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials are not. They have determined that the student is not Montmiere, although they have said that the student is in the country illegally and have scheduled a hearing to determine his status. Interestingly, Joseph was enrolled at his new school by Jabari Caldwell, a former teammate of… Guerdwich Montmiere’s from Dillard. (Dun, dun dun.) Caldwell signed an affidavit attesting that Joseph was his half-brother, but later said he enrolled the teen (who was homeless in Fort Meyers, Florida after fleeing a hurricane in Haiti in 2008) as a favor to a friend.
“He asked me if it was possible for me to help him enroll in school,” Caldwell told the Odessa American. “I met him in Odessa. He came out here on a Greyhound.”
Joseph has declined to comment to press on the allegations. However- and this may come from watching too many episodes of Scooby-Doo as a child- there seems to be one simple solution to this complex issue of mistaken identity. Can someone produce Guerdwich Montmiere? If so, and the two can appear in the same room at the same time, the controversy should be resolved fairly quickly.