A star high school basketball player in Windsor, Canada had his career abruptly derailed by the revelation he is actually 30 years old.
Standing at a tremendous 6 feet and nine inches, South Sudan native Jonathan Nicola was becoming a force of nature on the basketball court for Catholic Central High School. Although he had no experience playing the sport in an organized manner when he arrived from Africa, Nicola proved a quick study, and local coaches even produced a practice video showcasing his raw talent. His coach, Pete Cusumano, even said he had a shot at playing in the NBA.
In a January interview with The Windsor Star, Nicola said he arrived in Windsor Nov. 22, just three days before he turned 17. He was in the country on a student visa, and was actually living in Cusumano’s home under the Canada Homestay program. Nicola said that he had fled South Sudan, an impoverished war-torn land, to seek a better life in Canada.
But on Wednesday, Nicola was busted by Canadian immigration officials who say his identity as a teenage student-athlete is a sham. It’s not the first time something like this has happened, but what sets Nicola apart is the sheer gap between his stated and actual age. Nicola isn’t 20, or 22, or even 25. He’s apparently 30 years old, nearly double the age of some of his classmates.
Nicola is now in custody at a Canadian immigration center awaiting a further decision on his status. It’s unclear how officials were able to figure out Nicola’s true age, or how Nicola had slipped through when applying for a student visa. In his January interview, Nicola said the application process had taken about six months.
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