Explosive news has come out about Notre Dame’s gifted defensive player Manti Te’o. Te’o was the linebacker that America fell in love with. He went through tragedy at the beginning of the season and led his team defensively to an undefeated season and to a BCS Championship game. On September 11, 2012, Te’o was set out to play Michigan State with his teammates when he got some of the worst news of his life.
Te’o’s grandmother had passed away and later on he found out his girlfriend, Lennay Marie Kekua, was killed in a serious car accident. She had already been diagnosed with leukemia in June 2012. Everyone’s heart went out to him and was captivated with his poise on the field when his team upset Michigan State 20-3. He was a true vision of strength and will. Well, it turns out things are not always as they appear….
Te’o’s grandmother did pass away which is absolutely tragic, BUT Lennay Marie Kekua was never his ‘girlfriend’ and she never died that day. Deadspin has uncovered one of the craziest stories in sports. The pictures of Kekua that have been used by the media came from a California girl whose name has not be made public. Kekua and Te’o did not meet in 2009, in fact his Twitter account states that they met much later in 2011. Kekua was allegedly created by one of Te’o’s friends, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. Tuiasosopo has done tricked other people with the Kekua account, but it was only brought to light because of Te’o’s rise to fame.
So… Lennay Kekua did not meet Te’o, did not have leukemia, did not get in a car accident, and she was never laid to rest. Whoa and we all thought MTV’s show Catfish was crazy? So did this girl/guy “Catfish” Te’o or did he set up this elaborate plan to garner sympathy from America. If Te’o did come up with this story he is one wild imagination, too much time on his hands, and he is to blame for the blowout his team suffered against Alabama in the BCS Championship game. We definitely need an Oprah interview for this mess of a situation. I can’t wait to see how the Te’o family handles this situation…
Notre Dame has released this statement, “Notre Dame coaches informed Dec 26 by Manti Te’o & parents Manti had been victim of what appears to be a hoax. Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself w/Manti & then conspired w/others to lead him believe she had tragically died of leukemia. Proper authorities continue to investigate, this appears to be, at minimum, a sad & very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators.”
Te’o issued this statement shortly after claiming that he was just a victim of a hoax and had no hand in the prank:
“This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating. It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother’s death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life. I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been. In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was. Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I’m looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft.”
Thank you Deadspin for bringing this story to forefront.