For Women Who Want The Ballerific Life!
How do you fool a nation? Manti Te'o knows a thing or two about how to do that. This story is slightly hilarious and slightly sad. Te'o was a Heisman trophy hopeful who rose from tragedy to triumph after not only losing his grandmother but also losing his girlfriend to cancer yet still rising to beat Michigan 20-3 the Saturday after her funeral. The only problem, the girlfriend didn't exist...WTF? So not only did this girl not die of cancer, this girl never existed in the first place. Some sources are saying Te'o made this girl up, some others are saying that Te'o was a victim Talk about a real life a Catfish!
Via USA Today
In articles in Sports Illustrated and the South Bend Tribune and in interviews on ESPN, Te'o would recount how his girlfriend, Kekua, requested that he send white flowers to her funeral. Te'o said that the last words he shared with Kekua were "I love you."
"They were with me," Te'o said after Notre Dame's win over Michigan State in an on-field interview with ABC's Heather Cox. "I couldn't do without the support of my family and my girlfriend's family. I'm so grateful for all the love and support that all the fans, both Michigan State and Notre Dame, and fans around the world for supporting me and my family and my girlfriend's family. I miss them. I miss them. But I know that I'll see them again one day."
It was a beautiful story, one that publicized Te'o's off-field back story in time to heat up his Heisman Trophy campaign. The story grew over the next three months, including a three-minute piece on CBS This Morning on the day of the BCS championship game on Jan. 7.
The story was also entirely false, according to an article by Deadspin.com. According to Deadspin, not only did Te'o's girlfriend not die in the days leading up the Michigan State game, she didn't exist at all.
In what Deadspin is describing as an elaborate hoax, Kekua was an online persona created by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a friend of Te'o's and a pastor at a church in Palmdale, Calif. Says the Deadspin article:"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."
The only problem with this story is that Te'o talked to Lennay nightly over the phone allegedly. So, who was the woman he would talk to? It's also said that they met. So who's telling the truth?
Nov. 28, 2009: Te'o and Kekua meet after Stanford's 45-38 victory over Notre Dame in Palo Alto, according to the South Bend Tribune: "Their stares got pleasantly tangled, then Manti Te'o extended his hand to the stranger with a warm smile and soulful eyes." Kekua, a Stanford student, swaps phone numbers with Te'o.
2010-2011: Te'o and Kekua are friends. "She was gifted in music, multi-lingual, had dreams grounded in reality and the talent to catch up to them" (South Bend Tribune). "They started out as just friends," Te'o's father, Brian, told the Tribune in October 2012. "Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there."
Early 2012: Te'o and Kekua become a couple. They talk on the phone nightly, according to ESPN.
Some time in 2012: Kekua has a car accident somewhere in California that leaves her "on the brink of death" (Sports Illustrated). But when? Eight months before she died of cancer, in September, reports ESPN. "About the time Kekua and Manti became a couple," reports the South Bend Tribune. April 28, reports SI.
June 2012: As Kekua recovers from her injuries, doctors discover she has leukemia. She has a bone-marrow transplant. ("That was just in June," Brian Te'o told the South Bend Tribune in October of 2012. "I remember Manti telling me later she was going to have a bone marrow transplant and, sure enough, that's exactly what happened. From all I knew, she was doing really, really well.")
Summer 2012: Her condition improves. Kekua "eventually" graduates from Stanford, according to the South Bend Tribune. (A New York Times story, published Oct. 13, identifies her as a "Stanford alumnus.") She soon takes a turn for the worse. At some point, she enters treatment, apparently at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, Calif. (In a letter obtained by Fox Sports published Oct. 25, Te'o writes to the parents of a girl dying of cancer: "My girlfriend, when she was at St. Jude's in LA, she had a little friend.")
Te'o talks to Lennay nightly, "going to sleep while on the phone with her," according to Sports Illustrated. "When he woke up in the morning his phone would show an eight-hour call, and he would hear Lennay breathing on the other end of the line."
Sept. 10, 2012: Kekua is released from the hospital; Manti's father, Brian, congratulates her "via telephone" (South Bend Tribune).
Sept. 11-12, 2012: Te'o's grandmother dies in Hawaii. Later, Kekua dies in California. Or is it the other way around? "Te'o's girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died Sept. 11 of complications from leukemia. His grandma, Annette Santiago, died after a long illness less than 24 hours later," according to the Sept. 22 South Bend Tribune. No, Annette dies first, according to the Oct. 12 South Bend Tribune. In fact, Lennay lives long enough to express condolences over the death of Annette:
Less than 48 hours later [after Lennay's release from the hospital], at 4 a.m. Hawaii time, Kekua sent a text to Brian and Ottilia, expressing her condolences over the passing of Ottilia's mom, Annette Santiago, just hours before.
Brian awakened three hours later, saw the text, and sent one back. There was no response. A couple of hours later, Manti called his parents, his heart in pieces.
Lennay Kekua had died.
As you can see, the stories are conflicting. One pegs Te'o as a victim while another pegs him as an opportunist trying to tug the heart strings of many for publicity and a possible Heisman. You are a sick man if this is true Te'o!