Thursday, January 17, 2013

Manti's girlfriend

In a statement released today, Te'o said he was a victim of a "humiliating" hoax.

His statement came soon after the website deadspin.com reported that Te'o's purported girlfriend, who was said to have died in September, never existed. The website ran the story today under the headline "Blarney."
In a statement issued by his representatives, Te'o said: "This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over a period (of) months 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, a 2009 Punahou School graduate, was much celebrated for playing through the announced deaths of a grandmother and girlfriend in a 24-hour period in September and performing well in Notre Dame's 20-3 upset of then-10th ranked Michigan State.

Days before the game, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly told the media Sept. 13 that Te'o "lost some people very close to him and it's obviously taken a toll on him."

"Our players have been there for him and have been a great support. We'll support him," Kelly said. "He'll be with us. He practiced. He'll be playing Saturday against Michigan State. Unfortunately, he's gone through a very rough 24, 48 hours."

Kelly added: "But his support and his family at home have been great, and all of the coaches and players have been there for him. He wants to be with his teammates, he wants to be with the people that care about him. He's a strong man and he's going through a tough time, but he'll rise to the occasion."

His grandmother, Annette Santiago, died Sept. 11, 2012, at age 72. 

But the alleged girlfriend, Lennay Marie Kekua, who was reported to be a Stanford student, does not exist, Deadspin said.

The heartwarming story was reported on ESPN, Sports Illustrated, in the Star-Advertiser and many media outlets and helped boost Teo's stock for a runner-up Heisman Trophy finish and seven major awards.

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