Manti Te’o at Notre Dame Stadium. (Todd Rosenberg /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
The most heartbreaking and inspiring story of this year’s college football season just may be a hoax. Deadspin.com broke the blockbuster story that the dead girlfriend of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o never existed and was a hoax.
Deadspin.com reports that it could find no record that Lennay Kekua ever existed.
In one of the most bizarre stories in recent memory, Te’0 claims that he played no role in the deception and was the victim of a cruel hoax. Notre Dame believes Te’o andsaid Wednesday night it believes the football star was fooled into an online relationship with a woman whose death was then faked by the perpetrators of the hoax.
Te’o issued a statement Wednesday:
“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.”
Te’o was a Heisman Trophy finalist, finishing second in the voting, and led Notre Dame to the BCS championship, where they were blown out by Alabama.
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