EXCLUSIVE: Man who brought 15-year-old basketball player to Southport from Africa talks

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – For the first time, we heard from the man who brought a 15-year-old basketball player to Southport High School from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This young man’s convoluted journey resulted in Southport’s basketball team being banned from the season’s state tournament and the coach being suspended for two games.

The school is appealing the penalty.

In a more than 20-page appeal, Perry Township Schools laid out why it feels the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s decision to ban the basketball team from the state tournament is unfair. It centers around a 15-year-student from Africa.

READ MORE: Southport High School responds after officials ban basketball team from state tournament

Raymond Truitt is the man who took the kid in. He said he was impressed by his talent on the court.

“I said let’s bring him to the U.S. and maybe he can have a chance to provide for his family,” Truitt said.

Truitt said he spent thousands of dollars on the student to fly him to the states and care for him. He said a contact in Africa told him about the student. Truitt said he did not do this to make a profit off a talented kid.

“Sometimes kids are less fortunate than others and he just needed a chance,” Truitt said. “That is all he needed is a chance.”

Truitt said he enrolled the young man in Southport High School in August. He said he spoke to basketball coach Eric Brand beforehand.

“Ranked 4th in the state. He is going to play varsity right away, even in the 9th grade,” he said.

There was a problem with the player’s F1 student visa. The district said Truitt failed to pay the required reimbursement and eventually abandoned the teen in Perry Township.

Coach Brand said a basketball boosters non-profit group, that he is in charge of, raised enough money to pay for the student’s F1 visa status, and signed the check.

“I thought maybe he is worried about if he is going to be deported, somebody from immigration is going to take him. And I just wanted to give him a stable environment,” said Brand.

Truitt said the non-profit was founded this semester.

The student is now staying with a teacher and his wife. Truitt said there was no reason to take away his guardianship.

The school said this is not about recruiting. Truitt sees it differently. He said the payment was wrong and that is why he reported it to the IHSAA.

The appeal hearing is scheduled for next Wednesday.

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