Notre Dame said Wednesday that a story about Manti Te'o's girlfriend dying, which said inspired him to play better as he helped the Fighting Irish get to the BCS title game, turned out to be a hoax apparently perpetrated against the linebacker.
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, Te'o's girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, was an online persona created by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a friend of Te'o's and a pastor at a church in Palmdale, Calif.
"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," says Te'o, in a statement posted by ESPN. "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."
Notre Dame's football coaches were informed about "what appears to be a hoax" on Dec. 26, university spokesman Dennis Brown said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. Brown says "the proper authorities will continue to investigate" what he says was "a sad and very cruel deception."
Te'o said that to "realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating."
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