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Te’o’s girlfriend hoax?

manti-teo-hoax

In September it was widely reported that  Notre Dame football play Manti Te’o’s grandmother and girlfriend had passed away on the same day.  The standout linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist played three days later and led the Irish to a win over Michigan State.

It was a heartbreaking, heroic tale but only half of it is true, apparently.  The website Deadspin.com reveals the girlfriend, named Lennay Kukua, never existed.

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The vice president of Notre Dame spoke out about the allegations the existence of the school’s star football player Manti Te’o cancer-stricken girlfriend was a hoax.

Jack Swarbrick talked to the media Wednesday about a too-trusting football star and a woman who was never real.

“The single most trusting person I’ve ever met will never be able to trust in the same way in his life. That’s an incredible tragedy,” said Swarbrick.

The woman  was Manti Te’o’s supposed on-line girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, who we were led to believe died of leukemia in September, around the same time that Te’o lost his grandmother.”

The powerful narrative of a double-tragedy for a star linebacker trying to lead his team to victory was widely reported and never questioned. Until deadspin.com took a closer look and found the truth: The girlfriend, Lennay, simply did not exsist.

Te’o followed that revelation with a statement admitting he’d never met her. CT ND26.jpg

He goes on to detail meeting a woman online and developing an emotional relationship, one Te’o says he thought was real. There were online chats and phone conversations with somebody, he says.

“To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating,” Te’o said in the statement.

On that last point, faculty in South Bend want there to be no doubt.

“This was a very elaborate, very sophisticated hoax, perpetrated for reasons we can’t fully understand, but had a certain cruelty at its core.” Swarbrick said.

“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.”

“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.”

In September it was widely reported that  Notre Dame football play Manti Te’o’s grandmother and girlfriend had passed away on the same day.  The standout linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist played three days later and led the Irish to a win over Michigan State.

It was a heartbreaking, heroic tale but only half of it is true, apparently.  The website Deadspin.com reveals the girlfriend, named Lennay Kukua, never existed.

The website reports a friend of Te’o’s apparently made up the girlfriend story.  The only question now is, was Manti Te’o in on the hoax?

Te’o released a statement saying:

“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.”

Notre Dame has released a statement this afternoon saying:

“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.”

Read the entire article from Deadspin here.

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