A high school basketball player arrives from nowhere and wins offensive player of the year honors in his school district as a freshman. Sounds too good to be true.
In the case of 17-year-old Rashun Richardson at Hillcrest High in Dallas, it was. Turns out Richardson was really Sidney Bouvier Gilstrap-Portley, a 25-year-old man who graduated from high school seven years ago, according to Dallas Independent School District officials.
Gilstrap-Portley was arrested Friday and faces a charge of tampering with government records. Court records show he was booked into Dallas County Jail last week and has been released on bond, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Dallas schools spokeswoman Robyn Harris told the Morning News that Gilstrap-Portley posed as a refugee from Hurricane Harvey, knowing that the district was allowing evacuees from the storm to enroll even if they weren’t able to provide all the documentation normally required.
“He took that as an opportunity to gain access to our schools,” Harris said. “He was fairly savvy to be able to utilize that type of position, knowing that we were accepting Harvey students.”
A background check showed that the person who presented himself as Richardson previously had been enrolled in two other high schools.
Harris said school officials think Gilstrap-Portley’s primary motivation was to play basketball, but Dallas Supt. Michael Hinojosa told the Morning News, “No one should look at it that way.
“This is an adult infiltrating high school,” Hinojosa said. “People should take this seriously. No one should play it off like that. This is much more than that.”
The mother of a 14-year-old girl who attends Hillcrest has stated that her daughter dated the person she believed was Richardson. The woman told NBC-5 in Dallas-Fort Worth that her daughter said she kissed the man but did not have sexual relations with him.
“I’m upset, frustrated, angry and sad at the same time,” the woman told the Morning News. “If it’s happening at Hillcrest, then it could be happening somewhere else. People need to know. It could have gone differently if he had other intentions to hurt her or to traffic her.”
As Richardson, Gilstrap-Portley was sometimes seen hanging out with a young woman, who was thought to be his sister, and her infant child. Hillcrest principal Chris Bayer told NBC-5 police since have told him that the woman and baby are Gilstrap-Portley’s girlfriend and child.
The player known as Richardson led Hillcrest to an 11-10 record and was named the District 11-5A offensive player of the year.
“He was a good player, but didn’t stick out as being completely head and shoulders above everyone else,” Bayer told NBC-5, “other than him being a very quiet, reserved young man, polite.
“Looking back on that now, it makes sense to me that maybe he was trying not to be noticed or bring attention to himself.”
Gilstrap-Portley’s charade started to unravel at a tournament in April, when a coach from North Mesquite High — just 15 miles from Hillcrest — recognized him as someone who played for the school many years ago. He informed North Mesquite coach Phillip Randall, who then passed the information on to Hillcrest.
“He was a good kid,” Randall said of the player he once coached. “I never had any problems out of him. That’s why I was shocked when I heard that all this came out because that’s not the kid that I knew.”
Hinojosa and Bayer have issued apologies to parents, along with assurances that steps will be taken to prevent anything like this from happening again.
“We need to make sure we follow better protocols to try and prevent this from happening, but unfortunately this was almost like a perfect storm,” Hinojosa told NBC-5. “To the parents, I apologize. You send your kid to be safe at school and to participate in extracurricular activities, and this should not happen.”