The story of Manti Te’o’s girlfriend keeps getting more and more confusing.
On Wednesday afternoon, Deadspin.com reported that the Notre Dame star’s story of a girlfriend who died of leukemia was a hoax. In a detailed story, the Web site explained how Teo’o never met a woman named Lennay Kekua, and the identity of his girlfriend was created by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a man who Te’o knew.
In response, both Te’o and Notre Dame released statements on the matter. Both said that the Heisman Trophy candidate was the victim of the hoax, claiming Te’o developed an online relationship with someone pretending to be a girl named Lennay Kekua, whom he never met.
In a press conference, the school’s athletics director, Jack Swarbrick, said Te’o and his supposed girlfriend had a relationship that was exclusively online. Te’o thought a girl named Kekua had died, only to find out that she never really existed.
Te’o has yet to speak publicly on the matter, and Swarbrick’s comments still left a lot of answered questions. However, one thing seemed to be clear: Kekua is not a real person.
That is, until Reagan Mauia commented on the situation.
The Arizona Cardinals fullback claims to have known Kekua. According to ESPN, Mauia says he met her before she started talking to Te’o.
"I don't think Manti was even in the picture, but she and I became good friends,” said Mauia. “We would talk off and on, just checking up on each other kind of thing. I am close to her family. When she was going through the loss of her father, I was -- I offered a comforting shoulder and just someone to bounce her emotions off. That was just from meeting her in Samoa."
Mauia’s statement seems to contradict Deadspin’s initial report, as well as what Te’o and Swarbrick have said. The NFL player said Tuiasosopo is Kekua’s cousin, and he introduced the two.
The Deadspin report claimed that pictures of Kekua were actually of a woman who went to high school with Tuiasosopo. Mauia described Kekua as “athletic, tall, beautiful” with a “volleyball-type of physique.”
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is the cousin of former NFL quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo. Marques told ESPN that he never met or heard of Kekua.
However, Mauia is convinced that Kekua does exist. He said he believes her mother is running her Twitter account. When told that Kekua might be made up, Mauia responded, “No, she is real.”