‘It’s traumatic’: Mistaken identity affecting everyday life of EVSC coach

‘It’s traumatic’: Mistaken identity affecting everyday life of EVSC coach
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 8:15 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - His own glory days may be behind him, but Brandon Artis stays in shape.

After all, he has to keep with up a bunch of teenagers as head track coach at Memorial High School and assistant football coach at North High School.

“For me just being around sports in general, it kinda helps keep me going,” Artis said.

Back in the day, Artis himself was a guy who got used to seeing his name in the headlines as a star athlete at Central High School.

In the 2006 playoffs, the undefeated Bears lost a one-point heartbreaker in a classic that would become known as the “Mud Bowl.”

“Number one ranked team in the state, lost to a Jasper team in the mud,” Artis said. “It still hurts to this day.”

All these years later, he’s seeing his name in the headlines again. But the 34-year-old Brandon Artis that’s popping up in these headlines is not our 34-year-old Brandon Artis. Two different people, same age, same name.

“Honestly, it’s traumatic,” Artis said.

The other Brandon Artis was arrested and accused of murder. Police say the other Brandon Artis gunned down a man in front of his children during a robbery.

“When I got the text messages like, what’s going on? What’s happening? Is that you? It started to bring back those old feelings like I used to get,” Artis said.

The other Brandon Artis has a criminal record stretching back 10 years. That means people have been confusing these two for a decade.

Our Brandon Artis has a good job with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation. He and his wife are raising a beautiful family. But through the years, Artis says he’s been refused housing, turned down for jobs, and once had a background check splattered with crimes he didn’t commit.

“My name matters, I want people to understand,” Artis said. “Jokes... it’s okay to an extent. Now you’re paying with the people’s lives because I don’t know the other Brandon Artis. I know he probably has a family. And so I think about that.”

Artis says for the last 10 years, when he bumps into acquaintances he hasn’t seen for a while, he tenses up and thinks: Do I have to explain everything to everybody, every time?

“The work that I do is important, the people closest to me know that,” Artis said. “I take pride in what I do in my name. I actually thought about changing my name. But then in my mind, I’m like no. I’ve made a name for myself. I’ve made an impact on people. I just want my name represented in a good light.”

This mistaken identity affects more than Brandon. He says someone once asked his father if his son was still in trouble with the law.

“I just want people to understand that one wrong phrase can ruin someone’s life,” Artis said.

Brandon says he would like everyone in every situation to be very careful with the information they receive, and proceed very carefully with it until they have the facts.