The Manti Te'o Late Girlfriend Saga: Tragedy Turns into Bizarre Hoax

Manti Te'o: Troll or Trolled? - Gregory Shamus

Anyone who followed college football closely this season is all too familiar with the awful tragedies that Manti Te'o endured in a span of 48 hours in September. He overcame the deaths of his grandmother, Annette Santiago and girlfriend, Lennay Kekua and played his heart out against Michigan State the next day in an upset victory. ESPN, Sports Illustrated and local news stations covered his story and sympathized with him for his losses.

In a bizarre twist to Manti Te'o tragic story, Deadspin reported today that Manti Te'o's late "girlfriend," Lennay Kekua , was allegedly Ronaiah Tuiasosopo (a cousin of former UCLA Y-receivers coach Marques Tuisasosopo) fabricating the entire relationship via Twitter, using a former classmate's photograph and allegedly impersonating a nonexistent girl named "Lennay Kekua" who would become Te'o's girlfriend. I admit in this day and age, when "truthers" will claim that anything from the moon landing to 9/11 was "staged," I was initially skeptical until I saw the statement released by Te'o and Notre Dame.

Notre Dame's statement from university spokesman, Dennis Brown

On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te'o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia. The University immediately initiated an investigation to assist Manti and his family in discovering the motive for and nature of this hoax. While the proper authorities will continue to investigate this troubling matter, this appears to be, at a minimum, a sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators.

Dennis Brown
University Spokesman | Assistant Vice President

Manti Te'o's official statement.

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.

There are many conflicting theories behind what motivated this elaborate hoax. Feel free to share your thoughts on what just may be the weirdest story in college football since Kevin Hart announced that he was accepting a scholarship offer from a school that never recruited him.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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