Nice Try, Guerdwich

Posted by jstevrtc on May 12th, 2010

Remember the story we posted a few days ago about the basketball player at Odessa, Texas’ Permian High School — yes, it’s the Friday Night Lights high school — who claimed to be 16-year old sophomore Jerry Joseph, but was under suspicion of being an impostor?  Yesterday, we found out that this person was indeed Guerdwich Montimere, not a Harry Potter villain, but a 22-year old from Florida who graduated from Ft. Lauderdale’s Dillard High in 2007 and decided to relive part of his youth.

Montimere, aka Jerry Joseph.

Claiming to be a 15-year old orphan from Haiti at the time, Montimere moved to Odessa under the Jerry Joseph moniker in February 2009 and impressed everyone with his hooping skills, eventually winning the Texas District 2-5A Newcomer of the Year award.  Last month, a Florida AAU coach named Louis Vives saw Joseph at a tournament in Arkansas and immediately recognized him as Montimere, setting off speculation as to exactly who Jerry Joseph really was.  An anonymous e-mail received a few weeks ago by folks at Permian High led to an investigation, and Joesph was actually cleared by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who couldn’t prove that Joseph and Montimere were really the same person.  What they did find out was that the person who claimed to be Joseph’s half-brother last year when he enrolled Joseph in that junior high school — one Jabari Caldwell, actually a former teammate of Montimere’s at Dillard High in Ft. Lauderdale — was no relation to Joseph.  With no relatives in the country, Joseph was therefore said to have no legal basis for being in America, and he was subsequently taken into the home of Permian High School head coach Danny Wright while all the immigration issues were sorted out.  Likely hearing the footsteps behind him, Joseph came clean yesterday and admitted the was not 16-year old Jerry Joseph, but really 22-year old Guerdwich Montimere.

Montimere was arrested and, just a few hours prior to the posting of this very article, was released from jail after posting a $500 bond.  We’re certain Coach Wright has an opinion on a fitting sentence for Montimere, having taken the guy into his home.  Also, the Permian boys basketball team will probably have to forfeit all of their wins from last season because they used an ineligible player, so we doubt Guerdwich has any friends left in Odessa.  Therefore, if you’re approached in the next few days by a rather tall, mature-looking 16-year old with a Haitian birth certificate who wants you to enroll him at your local high school, just play it safe and call the cops.  You’re likely looking at Guerdwich Montimere — the David Hampton/Paul David Poitier of our times.

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Mistaken Identity or Identified Mistake?

Posted by rtmsf on May 6th, 2010

We caught wind of this bizarre story involving a high school star from Odessa, Texas (“Mojo!”), who may or may not be a 16-year old named Jerry Joseph, may or may not be an illegal immigrant from Haiti, and may or may not be a 22-year old named Guerdwich Montimere who already exhausted his prep eligibility in the mid-2000s in South Florida.  Depending on whom you ask, he could be any one of those threee people or none at all.  According to an ESPN report, Joseph, a 6’5 guard who was the regional newcomer of the year in that part of Texas in 2009-10, stands accused by coaches from the Ft. Lauderdale area that he is the same person (Montimere) who starred at Dillard HS and played for the South Florida Elite AAU team several years ago. 

Cedric Smith and Louis Vives, coaches for the South Florida Elite AAU team, saw Joseph last month at an AAU tournament in Arkansas and are convinced that Joseph is 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.  “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?'”

Fairly convincing, right?  Problem is that we already saw this movie at least, oh, a dozen times, and any good narrative needs to have a significant plot twist to leave us wondering.  Enter US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who got involved when the rumors started swirling about the true identity of the self-proclaimed teenager from Haiti.  Its investigation found that Joseph and Montimere are not the same person, but wait for it…  Joseph, who has no blood relative in the United States, may be living in the country illegally.  This part complicates things even more — Jabari Caldwell, a former Dillard player with Montimere in Ft. Lauderdale, has been claiming that he was Joseph’s half-brother/guardian and was the person who walked Joseph into Odessa Permian to enroll him in classes there last summer.  ICE says that Caldwell is in fact not Joseph’s kin, and as such, Joseph has no legal basis to be in America.  For the time being, though, his coach at Odessa has taken him in for the purposes of getting him through the immigration hearings.   

Whew.  So who is this kid and where did he come from?  And if Joseph is not Montimere, where is the 22-year old that nobody in Florida has seen or heard from in over a year?  The Florida people are convinced that they’re the same person, and the link between Caldwell and Montimere/Joseph is more than enough to raise an eyebrow or two, but the ICE’s mandate is to track people who are very good at lying and they’ve cleared him.  We’re not sure what to believe, but we’re anxious to sit back and watch the rest of it unfold.  As the world gets flatter and connections between people from different corners of it more interconnected, even the End of the Earth known as west Texas is no longer a sanctuary for hideaways. 

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