Did Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o take part in an elaborate hoax, which included having a girlfriend who didn’t actually exist, to hide the fact that he is gay?
That’s one of the many questions being asked these days as journalists, sports fans, and the general public struggle to come up with an explanation for Te’o’s behavior. Te’o told his heartbreaking story of the passing of his grandmother and girlfriend within hours of one another. He said that he and Lennay Kekua had met online several years ago and that she had died of leukemia shortly after his grandmother had also passed away.
A recent article on the website Deadspin has revealed that Kekua never existed. From Deadspin:
There was no Lennay Kekua. Lennay Kekua did not meet Manti Te’o after the Stanford game in 2009. Lennay Kekua did not attend Stanford. Lennay Kekua never visited Manti Te’o in Hawaii. Lennay Kekua was not in a car accident. Lennay Kekua did not talk to Manti Te’o every night on the telephone. She was not diagnosed with cancer, did not spend time in the hospital, did not engage in a lengthy battle with leukemia. She never had a bone marrow transplant. She was not released from the hospital on Sept. 10, nor did Brian Te’o congratulate her for this over the telephone. She did not insist that Manti Te’o play in the Michigan State or Michigan games, and did not request he send white flowers to her funeral. Her favorite color was not white. Her brother, Koa, did not inform Manti Te’o that she was dead. Koa did not exist. Her funeral did not take place in Carson, Calif., and her casket was not closed at 9 a.m. exactly. She was not laid to rest. Lennay Kekua’s last words to Manti Te’o were not “I love you.”
Reports have now surfaced that Te’o’s friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was the person behind Kekua’s fake twitter account and that Te’o and Tuiasosopo had seen each other as recently as November when Notre Dame played USC in Southern California.
Here is Te’o’s take on the entire incident, “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.”
Concludes Cyd Ziegler of Outsports.com:
I personally don’t know (whether Te’o is gay). But it seems to be the question everyone is asking. If he is, I hope he finds strength and acceptance; The vast majority of his friends, teammates and fans will support him whole-heartedly. If he’s not, I hope he can answer some questions, because people want to know why on earth he would concoct this totally fabricated story — including eight-hour phone calls — if they never happened. I can certainly understand why people think this might be pointing to his sexual orientation. There has never been a publicly out NFL player. There has never been a publicly out Div. 1 football player. But we know they’re out there. And if they were out there and wanted to hide their sexual orientation — or a relationship with another man — a fictitious girlfriend is a good way to do it.
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