Notre Dame: Manti Te'o girlfriend's death a cruel hoax - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Notre Dame: Manti Te'o girlfriend's death a cruel hoax

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Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o apparently was the target of an elaborate hoax that entailed deceiving the All-American into believing his girlfriend died of leukemia.(abc3340.com) Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o apparently was the target of an elaborate hoax that entailed deceiving the All-American into believing his girlfriend died of leukemia.(abc3340.com)

According to a report from DeadSpin.com, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o was deceived and manipulated into believing that his girlfriend died tragically from leukemia, when in fact, it was an elaborate hoax planned by a group of people.

Te'o, a unanimous All-American selection and a possible first-round NFL draft pick in April, was told his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died following a fight with her cancerous disease at age 22. He learned of her death on September 11, 2012, just six hours after receiving the news that his 72-year-old grandmother, Annette Santiago, had passed away.

Te'o met Kekua, a Stanford University student, in Palo Alto, California following a Notre Dame road game against the Cardinals. Before being told of Kekua's leukemia diagnosis, Te'o was told that she was involved in a serious car accident.

In the DeadSpin.com report, writers Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey reveal that there is no record of Kekua's death with the Social Security Administration, and there is no evidence of a car accident ever happening.

Statement from University of Notre Dame

In response to the article, Dennis Brown, assistant vice president at Notre Dame, released an official statement on Wednesday.

"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 statement from Dennis Brown, assistant vice president at Notre Dame, read. "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."

Statement from Manti Te'o

"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."

Video:  Manti Te'o discusses deceased girlfriend in interview

Below is video of a interview Te'o did with Notre Dame Athletics on November 13. He discussed his deceased girlfriend, mentioning letters that he received from her even after her alleged death.

Click here to watch on YouTube.

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