Senior linebacker and Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o had a stellar season this year. As the emotional and physical leader of one of the nation’s top defenses, Te’o finished second in the Heisman Trophy race to Johnny Football and took Notre Dame to the national championship game. Not too shabby, right? Well, it wasn’t all peaches and cream for Te’o this year. Not only did Notre Dame get shattered by Alabama in the BCS championship, he also overcame a lot of personal strife, including the death of his grandmother and girlfriend. Turns out only one of those deaths was real. Notre Dame star Manti Te’o was the victim of an online dating hoax and that dead girlfriend never actually existed.
“Manti was the victim of that hoax. He has to carry that with him for a while. In many ways, Manti was the perfect mark because he’s the guy who was so willing to believe in others. The pain was real. The grieving was real. The affection was real,” said Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. He added, “This was a very elaborate, very sophisticated hoax perpetrated for reasons we cant fully understand.”
The girl that Te’o believed died of leukemia, Lennay Kekua, never actually existed. Turns out she was a creation of several people created as part of some sort of prank or scam against Te’o. The death of the fake girlfriend was national news when she passed, and it was the focus of multiple soft-focus features about Te’o during the season. Indeed, it was one of the things that drove him to his success, but now it looks as though it was all based on lies and Te’o was apparently an unwilling victim.
You have to feel bad for the guy, really. His grandmother died, he got creamed in the biggest game of his life, and the girlfriend he thought died a tragic death never really existed.
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