Last fall, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o became an inspirational sports figure. The death of Teo’s girlfriend, Lennay Kekua days after his grandmother’s death turned Te’o into more than just a football player. Te’o’s story of triumph through adversity took an unexpectedly bizarre twist today. According to Deadspin's investigative story published Wednesday, the late girlfriend of Te’o never even existed.
If true, this would be arguably the most bizarre sports story since Danny Almonte pretended to be 12 to participate in the Little League World Series or Bryce Harper’s seven showers per game day revelation. If Te'o was apart of this hoax, this could make Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace seem like a spill down the stairs.
Te’o will have some tough questions to ask in the coming days as Deadspin reports, he was in on the hoax. The Te’o family is standing their ground and claiming they are the victim of an elaborate hoax but it would be extremely difficult to imagine that Te’o could be the victim of a hoax of this nature, especially if the facts Deadspin is reporting are true.
There are many questions swirling but Deadspin's report identifies Ronaiah Tuisasosopo, a friend of Te'o osopo as the mastermind behind the Lennay Kekua fabrication.
"We spoke with friends and relatives of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo who asserted that Ronaiah was the man behind Lennay. He created Lennay in 2008, one source said, and Te'o wasn't the first person to have an online 'relationship' with her. One mark – who had been 'introduced' to Lennay by Tuiasosopo – lasted about a month before family members grew suspicious that Lennay could never be found on the telephone, and that wherever one expected Lennay to be, Ronaiah was there instead. Two sources discounted Ronaiah's stunt as a prank that only metastasized because of Te'o's rise to national celebrity this past season."--Deadspin
While it appears that much of their relationship took place online, Te’o claims to have met Lennay after a 45-38 loss at Stanford in 2009.
However, the article does go on to state that "the friend simply couldn't believe that Te'o would be stupid enough – or Ronaiah Tuiasosopo clever enough – to sustain the relationship for nearly a year."
In a statement, Notre Dame said that the coaching staff informed on Dec. 26 of what they called a "sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators."
Te’o reportedly recorded 12 tackles and recovered a fumble after Lennay’s death in September. If he learned of the hoax around Christmas, this may have been a factor in his seven missed tackles and overall, poor showing in last Monday’s BCS National Championship.
More details will be forthcoming in what many are dubbing the Hoax of the Irish.
"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," Notre Dame’s statement read.