Heisman Hopeful’s Hoax? Notre Dame’s Te’o girlfriend’s death is fake
South Bend, IN, United States (NewsBahn) – There was no shame in finishing as runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, or being part of a Notre Dame football team that was crushed by Alabama in the national championship game.
Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te’o says he’s embarrassed by learning an online girlfriend he thought recently died never actually existed.
To make the story even more ‘incredible’, Te’o was told this supposed girlfriend died the same day as his grandmother, perhaps making the day, September 12, even more emotional for the future hopeful NFL player.
Notre Dame coaches were reportedly told by Te’o and his parents on Dec. 26 the story of the girl who was supposed to have died of leukemia was a hoax, however.
Deadspin.com was the first to report that Lennay Kekua indeed never existed as the website couldn’t find a record of someone by that name attending Stanford, as she supposedly did, nor could it find a death certificate by someone of that name.
“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,” Te’o said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
“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 also issued a press release on the matter in which it suppored Te’o, adding officials there were investigating a “very cruel deception.”
It’s too soon to tell what effect the matter will have on his NFL stock at the upcoming draft for a player who won an all-time record 12 postseason awards.