Last year, Jonathan Nicola was a force to be reckoned with on court for Catholic Central High School. The 17-year-old Windsor, Ontario, junior was an absolute menace with a possible future in the NBA in the cards.
But you’re not going to be seeing Jonathan Nicola in the NBA any time soon. Or rather, if you were going to see him, it would have been best to tune in 10 years ago. The dude is 30 years old! That’s right, a 30-year-old man was pretending to be 17 and playing high school basketball.
In April of 2016, Canada Border Services Agency arrested the South Sudan national and supposed 17-year-old for “allegedly contravening the Immigration Refugee Protection Act.”
Reportedly there were a couple of problems with Nicola’s visa application. His study permit listed his birth year as 1998. However, his fingerprints lined up with a United States visitor visa for someone with a birth year of 1986.
Adding to the intrigue, Jonathan Nicola reportedly doesn’t know how old he actually is, or so he said after being released from jail last May. He was even living with his high school coach, Pete Cusumano, who he apparently had convinced of his age
But according to the Toronto Star, not everyone was convinced.
“I knew it when I looked right at him — I said ‘that guy’s 30 years old,'” Cam Nekkers of Pine Ridge Secondary School told The Toronto Star. “After the game, he’s sitting on the bench as a bunch of us walk by; we get past him, and I’m like, ‘Did you look at his face? Does anybody think he’s 17 years old?'”
Nicola, as mentioned, denied he knew he was a 30-year-old man. Instead, he blames his mother, describing her as “sick.”
“I always keep asking what is the specific age that I was born, and she has told me that she could not remember. Over (in South Sudan)…not every year we study…we always keep moving to different schools, and over there, they do not ask your age. They do not ask you nothing.”
So this is all just lost in translation? Cultural differences? You can’t tell if you’ve been on the planet for 17 years as opposed to 30? Come on.
“I did not came [sic] here to harm any people or do something bad,” Nicola told the Toronto Star. “All my goal is to study and get the education, so I can go back home, I can help my mother, I can help all my rest of the family.”
Well, he should be heading home to help his family—just a little sooner than expected, and with a whopper of a story about how he dominated athletes half his age.