Last week, I was introduced, by way of ESPN.com news services to the story of 22-year-old former Texas high school basketball player Guerdwich Montimere -- and his alleged 16-year-old alias, Jerry Joseph. Coaches familiar with Montimere's career in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. were utterly convinced Montimere was posing as the younger Joseph and playing high school hoops in West Texas. FBI fingerprint analysis had supposedly cleared Joseph, but the coaches didn't believe it:
"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.
Either Joseph was Montimere, or someone was putting Joker gas in the spigots of high school coaches in Florida. One of the two.
Turns out -- you're not going to believe this -- the coaches were right. Joseph was Montimere. A 22-year-old was posing as a 16-year-old hoopster. And I'm even more baffled by this story than before, which has to be some sort of bafflement record. From the AP story:
He also presented himself as homeless to the school's basketball coach, Danny Wright, who took the boy in last summer, the coach said. Montimere was arrested at Permian High on Tuesday and booked into Ector County jail on a charge of presenting false identification to a police officer. "I feel like I was hit by a ton of bricks," district athletic director Leon Fuller said. "In my 50 years in education, I've never heard of anything like this."
Wright told The American that the player was like a family member. "This affected a lot of people. The whole school of Permian embraced that kid. He deceived us and played on everyone's emotions," Wright said.
You know, I learned something today: Never doubt the word of several coaches who seem, all evidence to the contrary, convinced of a player's identity. Also, never take your eye off someone whose name sounds like a Victorian villian's. Oh, and never trust a guy with two first names. But you knew that already.