Deadspin.com reported today that the inspirational story of star linebacker Monti Te'o's girlfriend's battle with leukemia, which lead into his great season and a Fighting Irish National Championship berth, has turned out to be an elaborate hoax. As Sports Illustrated told the story in their October 1st issue, Te'o learned first of the death of his grandmother, Annette Santiago, and then of the death of his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua within 6 hours of each other on September 12. Three days following, Te'o played a great game in an upset win against Michigan State. While it is true that Te'o's grandmother died on September 11, 2012, the woman he called his girlfriend actually did not… She did not even exist.
As exposed by Deadspin.com today, Lennay Kekua was an online persona created by California church worker and Te'o's friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. Te'o has already made a statement to press regarding this scandal, denying his involvement and claiming to be a victim:
"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…"
Te'o continues on in this quote to say that he will try to move on and focus on the upcoming NFL Draft. What remains to be seen is how ignorant the Heisman Trophy front runner really was throughout this false relationship.
Many things did not add up over time seem especially suspicious now. But the heartbreaking interview Manti gave on October 2012 with Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN brought his story national attention, the whole country mourning for his great loss. In this interview, he describes conversations in detail, stating that her last words to him were, "I love you." How could anyone think to question inconsistencies in such a difficult time? Months later, the puzzle is now falling together, and the nation is shocked to learn of this heartless deceit. Watch the interview here.
Will this scandal prove to be a huge publicity stunt, orchestrated by Te'o and a friend to pull on the heartstrings of millions, giving star linebacker an even bigger leg up in the upcoming 2013 Draft, because he was able to have such an amazing season under the pressure of such grief? Time and evidence will tell. Read the full Deadspin.com article here.
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