Have a soft heart? Love the sob story that Manti Te’o was this season? Well, this isn’t for you then.
Possibly the most inspirational story in all of sports in 2012 has been uncovered by Deadspin as a hoax. The linebacker played under the burden of two deaths of people close to him. The first is his grandmother, Annette Santiago, who died on Sept. 11, 2012 (which was confirmed by Deadspin). The second story of Te’o's girlfriend dying in a long-lasting battle with leukemia after a car crash, however, is a sham.
In fact, according to Deadspin, Lennay Kekua, a supposed Stanford student, has no record at all.
The Stanford registrar’s office has no record that a Lennay Kekua ever enrolled. There is no record of her birth in the news. Outside of a few Twitter and Instagram accounts, there’s no online evidence that Lennay Kekua ever existed.
Here’s the full story, because it’s much too long to tell the entire tale here. Deadspin made a more than solid case, however, Notre Dame supported Te’o with the following statement on Wednesday evening.
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.
There’s many questions that can, and should be asked, but at this point they’re hard to answer. We do know, however, that to get the full scoop on the Te’o story, the Deadspin piece is a must read. Deadspin has picked this story up after SI, ESPN, CBS and other major outlets have ran right past it. I’m going to give the link again, and we’ll continue to keep you posted if we find anything new tonight. Te’o sure does have a lot of explaining to do for himself.
UPDATE: Te’o issued a statement of his own on Wednesday afternoon.
“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.”
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