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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mystery of The Ages

I don't know why I did this. I should have left well enough alone, but one night, when I couldn't sleep, I tried to calculate the current age of the students I had during my first year of teaching.

If most of them were 15 in 2003, that would mean they'd be 25 now. Twenty-five. Wow! That's older than I was at the time that I'd taught them.

Plenty of people have done things that are noteworthy (or nefarious!) by the time they've reached their twenty-fifth birthdays.

I wondered if any of those former students would pop up in a google search.

Most teachers cannot remember every name, of course, but two main factors contribute to lasting memorability-- unforgettable characters (both positive and negative, usually negative) and unusual names (which is why Russ will remember his former student Rakshit until he is eighty years old, at least.)

Markeith Smith--as the only Markeith I've ever known-- fell into the unusual name category. This is not to say he wasn't a character. He definitely was one of the jolliest, goofiest smiley rascals I'd encountered, which was such a contrast to his remarkable height and exquisite afro. He'd arrived midway through the year from Waxahachie, and he made it very clear that none of us should call him by his birth name/report card name of Taylor.

Of all the names (ten, total, I'd imagine) I searched for that night, his was the only one that turned up newsworthy info.

When I last saw Markeith, he was heading off to a bright future in high school. It turns out he had been very busy in the ten years since eighth grade in Dallas.

And most of that time had been spent in high school.

Markeith is now something of a local legend, but unfortunately it is for all the wrong reasons. It is amazing--and heartbreaking--to see just how far desperation can lead.

Check out these headlines: (You can click on them to read the actual articles)

22-year-old spent years trying to play Texas freshman football (Yahoo News, December 8, 2011. This is the most intriguingly and compassionately written of all the articles.)

The real impostor: An interview with Taylor Markeith Smith, the grown man who tried to play high school football (SportsDayHS, a division of DMN, April 5, 2012. This is the most current of all the articles and includes some bizarre quotes.)

Coaches puzzled by man who tried to play football for at least 14 Dallas-area high schools under 3 different names (Dallas Morning News, December 8, 2011)

Texas con man, 22, tried to play high school football at more than a dozen schools, coaches say (NY Daily News, December 9, 2011) 

Man Poses as Teen Football Player at 13 Schools (NBC-DFW, December 8, 2011)

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