For many people, sports are one of the best things in life and something they’ll do absolutely anything for.
They’re great to watch, fun to talk about, and exhilarating to compete in. While some love participating in sports for the exercise, others love the excitement of testing their skills against competition to see who comes out on top.
There’s probably also some excitement (or perhaps anxiety) involved for those who secure their spot on sports teams by falsifying information about their identity. Though coaches often claim an athlete must do whatever it takes to chase their passion, Sidney Bouvier Gilstrap-Portley may have taken things to the extreme.
The 25-year-old man was recently arrested after it was found he’d been posing as a high school student. The reason? He wanted to play on the school’s basketball team. Still relatively young and without any distinctive features that would give away his true age, Gilstrap-Portley was able to keep his ruse going for a while and even generate a modest amount of success.
The man started out his covert sports operation by enrolling as a freshman at Skyline High School. He told the school’s officials he was originally a native of Houston, Texas, and that he’d been displaced by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Going by the name Rashun Richardson, he eventually transferred to Hillcrest High and joined the basketball team.
Richardson, or Gilstrap-Portley, even began climbing the AAU ranks with his performances. While some would claim his age and more fully developed physique gave him an advantage, he kept it a secret for a surprising length of time.
The obvious question many people would have is how a student could get into a public school without having the necessary paperwork to verify his identity. Gilstrap-Portley took advantage of a federal law that said disaster evacuees don’t need paperwork due to their situation. The man also allegedly dated a 14-year-old girl during his time at Hillcrest though her mother says their relationship was never sexual.
The man may have been able to continue his scheme for longer, but his cover was blown when he was spotted by a former coach. The coach tipped off Hillcrest staff that the boy they’d brought in and allowed on their basketball team was actually a fully grown man. The alarming situation raises questions about school security and how much screening should actually go on for new enrollees.
It’s even more concerning because this story isn’t the only one of its kind. Even in Texas alone, there was another confirmed case of the same type just seven years ago. A Haitian orphan named Jerry Joseph who enrolled at Permian High School was actually a grown man named Guerdwich Montimere. He pulled off his scheme for the same reason – to live out a basketball dream that had ended years before during his time in junior college. He also had a relationship with a student, this one sexual, and was eventually arrested and jailed.