That is, the loss of his BS story about his dead girlfriend.
To tell the story of Manti Te'o, Notre Dame's star linebacker, one must discuss his inspirational play in this September's win over Michigan State. Just days after the death of his grandmother and his girlfriend, Te'o racked up 12 tackles and recovered a fumble in a 20-3 victory over the Spartans. The following Saturday, after Kekua's funeral, Te'o made two interceptions in a 13-6 victory over Michigan.
In articles in Sports Illustrated and the South Bend Tribune and in interviews on ESPN, Te'o would recount how his girlfriend, Lennay 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."
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 onCBS 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,
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The article quotes a friend of Tuiasosopo's as saying he was "80 percent sure" that Te'o was "in on it," and that "the two perpetrated Lennay Kekua's death with publicity in mind."
"Mostly, though," the articles continues, "the friend simply couldn't believe that Te'o would be stupid enough – or Ronaiah Tuiasosopo clever enough – to sustain the relationship for nearly a year."
Te'o's agent's office had no comment. In a statement, Notre Dame said that the coaching staff was first informed on Dec. 26 of what the university calls a "sad and very cruel deception to entertain its perpetrators."
"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," read the statement.
"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."
O rly. He was hoaxed into believing that a person he, what, met through the internet? Was his girlfriend? Ya don't say. Hoaxed into recounting some last words from, uh, what, somebody he had never met? And by the way, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is apparently a dude.