As most have heard by now (and if you haven’t ESPN is covering it like they covered Tebow), we’re learning that the inspirational story of Manti Te’o's girlfriend is a hoax. Manti made national headlines earlier this year when his grandmother and girlfriend allegedly died just hours apart and then 3 days later Te’o had 12 tackles in a big win over Michigan. They were his inspiration. BUT now it’s coming out that the girlfriend never existed and the whole story was all made up.
I saw this story starting to unfold yesterday on Deadspin and left it alone for a minute to see what unfolds and I’m more confused as ever as to what’s happening. SMH. This story has so many twists and turns it’s crazy! Is Te’o really a victim of the hoax or was he part of the hoax? What made Deadspin look into his story? Was this story made up for self promotion? There’s SO many unanswered questions.
This is one of those stories that sports fans will always remember. Manti Te’o has released a statement along with Notre Dame. Check out the story below from Deadspin along with a timeline & we’ll keep updating as more details come out.
Statements via HP:
Full text of statement by Te’o, via ESPN.com.
“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 Assistant Vice President Dennis Brown also issued a statement in response, via Facebook, indicating that the university became aware of the possible hoax on Dec. 26 and “that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax.”
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.
Full story according to Deadspin:
Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, the stories said, played this season under a terrible burden. A Mormon linebacker who led his Catholic school’s football program back to glory, Te’o was whipsawed between personal tragedies along the way. In the span of six hours in September, as Sports Illustrated told it, Te’o learned first of the death of his grandmother, Annette Santiago, and then of the death of his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua.
Kekua, 22 years old, had been in a serious car accident in California, and then had been diagnosed with leukemia. SI‘s Pete Thamel described how Te’o would phone her in her hospital room and stay on the line with her as he slept through the night. “Her relatives told him that at her lowest points, as she fought to emerge from a coma, her breathing rate would increase at the sound of his voice,” Thamel wrote.
Upon receiving the news of the two deaths, Te’o went out and led the Fighting Irish to a 20-3 upset of Michigan State, racking up 12 tackles. It was heartbreaking and inspirational. Te’o would appear on ESPN’sCollege GameDay to talk about the letters Kekua had written him during her illness. He would send a heartfelt letter to the parents of a sick child, discussing his experience with disease and grief. The South Bend Tribune wrote an article describing the young couple’s fairytale meeting—she, a Stanford student; he, a Notre Dame star—after a football game outside Palo Alto.
Did you enjoy the uplifiting story, the tale of a man who responded to adversity by becoming one of the top players of the game? If so, stop reading.
(STORY CONTINUES AT DEADSPIN)