Guerdwich Montimer's reheated hoop dreams have been thrown in the trash. On Wednesday, the 23-year-old accepted three years in prison in a plea deal. Had he taken his case to trial next week, he might have wound up behind bars for two decades.
It had seemed like such a heartwarming story. Two years ago, after adopting the identity of 15-year-old Jerry Joseph, Montimer arrived in West Texas with nothing more than a bag of clothes. After enrolling in Odessa Permian High School as a freshman and signing up for the basketball squad, he told his coach that he was a homeless Haitian orphan, and the coach took him into his home.
And the 6-5 Joseph could seriously ball. Joseph led the Panthers to the state tourney and was honored as the district's newcomer of the year after the season.
Yep, he was like a man among boys out there. And the story was shaping up to be just like The Blind Side.
Unfortunately it wound up as a blind-siding.
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Montimer's facade fell apart at an off-season AAU tournament in Arkansas. There the then 22-year-old was spotted and recognized by three Florida coaches as a hoops star from Fort Lauderdale five years back. They alerted officials in Odessa, who conferred with immigration officials in Washington. (Montimer is Haitian-born.) After denying it was so for a full year, "Jerry Joseph" finally admitted he was Guerdwich Montimer in open court this week.
And so ended his living of the dream so many burned-out twentysomethings share. "If I could only go back and do it over, with all these new moves I've got, maybe this time I could make a career out of it." And then there's also romance. How many guys have asked themselves, how many girls could I have gotten in high school if I had only known then what I know now?
Montimer's successful answering of that second question was at the heart of the most serious charge he confessed to this week -- sexual assault of a child. He admitted to having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl who thought he was also 15.
The victim in the case consented to the plea deal -- five concurrent three-year sentences, two for sex assault and three for tampering with government records. Montimer will also have to enroll in the Texas Sex Offender Registry for life on his release from prison.