Haitian ball player Cady Lalanne was all set to play basketball at UMass. Then he got deported. Lalanne told us about his incredible journey back to the US, and about his dreams of playing in the NBA.
According to Orlando Sentinel,
Cady Lalanne jumped over the side of a small motorboat and waded through the water toward shore. He was 7 years old and thought that’s how people from Haiti moved to the United States.
“At the time, I just thought, ‘Some people take planes; some people take boats,'” said Lalanne, now 23.
It wasn’t until he applied for federal student aid his freshman year of college that he learned he was an illegal immigrant. Lalanne spent the next six months stuck in a country he hadn’t seen since he was a child, staying in a stranger’s house with no electricity and, more importantly, no basketball.
Immigration issues were the biggest obstacles, but far from the only ones that stood between Lalanne and his dream of playing professional basketball. Lalanne grew up in an Orlando neighborhood near Sand Lake Road. It wasn’t the worst the city had to offer, but it wasn’t the best. Lalanne was raised by his mother and stepfather, who married in 2006.
He was a star on his high-school basketball team, recruited by Division I programs and signed with the University of Georgia. Academic eligibility issues got in the way of playing there, so he entered a program at UMass called Proposition 48, which allowed him to be eligible after sitting out a year.
He was in his second semester when a letter came from the government, threatening to deport him.
“There was nothing that made me think we were illegal,” said Lalanne, whose mother became legal when she married an American. “She wasn’t hiding anything from us. If we needed to go on a field trip with the school, she would fill out the paperwork. We never had any issues.”
Lalanne and his sister, Betty, who was 14 at the time, were forced to return to Haiti to sort everything out. Their mother, Bertha, accompanied them. It was supposed to be a two-week process.
Once there, the embassy ordered his mother to return to the U.S. for a DNA test, Lalanne said, because her skin color was much lighter than his. UMass coach Derek Kellogg sent proof of attendance to show Lalanne was doing the right things. His mother hired an immigration lawyer.
The ordeal lasted half a year.
“We felt stuck, like we were never going back,” Betty said. “You’re just sitting there not knowing, surrounded by strangers.”
Lalanne and his sister stayed with a pastor in a partially underground house made of cement, they said. Water leaked through the walls when it rained, and the sound of frogs filled the night. There was no hot water. Lightning had knocked out the electricity one of their first nights there and fried Lalanne’s cellphone, which was plugged into the wall at the time. – Continue Reading Here