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Washington to Minnesota: The odd travels of the 'Piggyback Bandit'

Posted by: Howard Sinker Updated: July 12, 2012 - 1:21 PM

Maybe you remember back in February when there were news reports about a man traveling through North Dakota and Minnesota, among other places, seeking piggyback rides from athletes and exhibiting other forms of bizarre behavior. Pretending to be a Fargo North graduate, he crashed a basketball team orientation session last November and gave the coach a donation before jumping on the back of a student.

Months later, he showed up at an MIAC basketball game in Moorhead and tried to insert himself as the St. Olaf team manager.

That came after Shayegan had attracted attention through the northern part of the United States for his behavior at an assortment of sporting events, most of them involving high-school aged students.

In a memo sent to state high schools, Minnesota State High School League executive director Dave Stead wrote: "Shayegan is known to cause a direct threat to the health and safety of student athletes and others"

He also wrote: "If Sherwin Shayegan is found to be in your school or school community, I suggest that you immediately take action to address his attendance at your events, contact the local police department and notify the League office regarding his sighting."

According to the Grantland story, school officials and parents took action when Shayegan showed up at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud for a basketball game against Albany.

Writer Bryan Curtis asked school president Michael Mullin to recreate what happened: "He didn't put up a fight. He was led out of the gym by a posse of Cathedral faculty members and parents, which grew to about seven or eight by the time they got Sherwin to the front door. Someone walked back to the till to refund the six dollars Sherwin had paid for the ticket. Perhaps because Sherwin's stay was so brief, and because it didn't include a piggyback ride, Mullin feels a little guilty about the preemptive strike.

" 'He bought a ticket to a basketball game and was exhibiting proper behavior,' [Mullin] says. 'He wasn't doing a darn thing wrong.' But by this point, Sherwin had gone from being an oddity to an official menace. The next day, February 10, Sherwin was trespassed from high school sporting events in Minnesota. He'd been banned in five states — numerically speaking, in one-tenth of the country."

A few days later, Curtis wrote, Shayegan showed up at a roller derby bout in Duluth.

The full story is bizarre, sad and troubling -- and worth reading in its entirety, which you can do here.

 

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