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High School Basketball Player Says He Didn't Know He Was 29 Years Old


Recently Jonathan Nicola made headlines, and not for being an excellent high school basketball player.

It was discovered that the 29-year-old man was masquerading as a 17-year-old high school student and playing for Catholic Central High School in Canada. Now the 6'9 man is saying he wasn't aware that he was 29. According to the Toronto Star, Nicola's mother kept telling him different ages throughout his life.

"I always keep asking what is the specific age that I was born, and she has told me that she could not remember," Nicola said. "Over (in South Sudan) ... not every year we study ... we always keep moving to different schools, and over there, they do no ask your age. They do not ask you nothing.

Nicola went on to say that his main goal was to get a good education so he could provide for his family at some point.

"I am not a liar person," Nicola continued. "I am religious. I pray to God ... If something bad happen to me here, I do not know what would happen to my mother back home because she is really sick. She has diabetes. I did not came (sic) here to harm any people or do something bad. 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 the rest of my family."

It all stems from a man Nicola named as "Coach Steyn" who helped him get Canada. There's no additional details about his whereabouts at the moment, but he was said to have completed the necessary paperwork for Nicola to get to Canada.

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"He [Coach Steyn] did the whole papers," Nicola said in a hearing. "He did everything."

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Nicola's student visa application and passport says he was born November 25, 1998, but when his fingerprints provided at Canada Border Services Agency match a man with the same name that was born November 1, 1986.

Nicola is hoping to just get sent back home, saying that this was not his fault. He apologized to his high school coach and those involved for having put them through this.

"Please if you let me, send me back home, it would be much more better for me and for my family and for my mental health," Nicola said. 

His request was ultimately denied by adjudicator Valerie Currie. She believes he knew all along of his age and took an opportunity to fool those involved so he could get to Canada.

"I understand your desire to do that, but the way you have gone about doing that is frankly, quite illegal," Currie said.

Nicola's next hearing is set for May 24.