(Memphis) – The Ridgeway basketball player who cost his team a trip to the State Tournament is speaking out about the scandal.
He and his aunt want to set the record straight about his age, his marriage, and how all of this transpired.
“First and foremost I want people to know McKinzey Sewell is 18-years-old,” Sewell’s aunt McKini Spain said.
Sewell’s arm is tattooed with his birthday May 4, 1994. He showed News Channel 3 a copy of his birth certificate that shows the same date.
It says Sewell was born in Pineville, Louisiana. He said he went to high school at Peabody High School where he played basketball. At 16, he said, he got into trouble for skipping school and dropped out.
“We sent him to Job Corp got his GED very shortly didn’t take him long to get his GED. He got his GED he even started taking up a trade. He decided he didn’t want to be in Job Corp anymore and he returned to Tennessee to stay with me. A new place and fresh start,” Spain said.
He made a simple request to his aunt.
“I wanted to get my diploma,” he said.
She went to Westwood High to enroll him in school, but they told her he couldn’t register there because he already had his G.E.D.
His hopes were crushed until he had a conversation with 34-year-old Nicolle Cortez.
Sewell met Cortez through her 15-year-old son who played basketball with him in a league.
“She said that she knew someone and talked to someone and they said we could get him in school,” Spain said. “We felt great about that.”
In the meantime, Sewell and Nicholle moved in together and fell in love. He said she was his provider.
He claimed once he started school, however, she got jealous and wanted to get married.
“She didn’t want me going to Ridgeway because of the girls there. The only way she was letting me back there was if I signed the wedding papers,” Sewell said. “I really wanted to be there because I felt like I had a second chance in doing something I loved to do.”
His love of being on the basketball court, he said, landed him in an Arkansas courthouse saying his vows in November 2012.
Everything was fine until he starting dating a 19-year-old at school.
It all unraveled there.
The school soon found out that his mother was not the one who enrolled him at Ridgeway.
Sewell said his wife put his mother’s name on the application and forged his transcripts.
He said he never knew the transcripts were forged, and said he handed over all of his original information to her.
His aunt not only blamed Sewell’s wife, but said the school should have checked the documents.
“Every piece of paper should have been examined to the fullest extent. It took every bit of a phone call,” she said. “Why wait until they (the basketball team) gets to state to check the paperwork.”
Sewell apologized to his teammates for causing them to be disqualified right before the state tournament.
“I’m sorry I messed that up for you,” he said.
He said he learned a valuable lesson from all this.
“You can’t wait for someone to take care of you,” he said. “If someone promises you a good life it comes with consequences.”
He said he lives with those consequences each day. It’s difficult, he said, to see what people write on social media sites about him.
He said people have accused him of being a gang member. He said that’s just not true.
What bothers him most he said, is people accuse him of killing his coach.
“I mourned his loss like everybody else did and they try to pin me with murder.”
Sewell said he now looks forward to his future. He plans on attending Southwest College and ending his marriage to Nicholle.
Nicholle Cortez also goes by two other names; Chaundrea Hamilton and Chandra Nicholle.
We tried to get her side of the story, but she didn’t come to the door at her last known address.