BACKGROUND (January 26, 1991-February 3, 2009)
Manti Te’o was born on January 26, 1991 in Laie, Hawaii. Te’o was raised in Hawaii and went to Punahou School in Manoa, Honolulu. He was raised in a devoutly Mormon home by parents Brian and Ottilia Te’o and was very family oriented. Manti started playing Varsity football in 2006 as a Sophomore and shined at the linebacker position. While playing football in high school, he won multiple individual awards and became one of the most decorated high school athletes in Hawaii’s history. He entered his senior year of high school as one of the most coveted recruits in the country. Manti received over 30 scholarship offers to different Division 1 Universities.
This is Manti Te’o’s family; Manti has always been extremely family oriented growing up in Mormon home.
COLLEGE LIFE (February 4, 2009)
Manti Te’o ultimately chose to attend Notre Dame University in Indiana on signing day, February 4, 2009. Te’o has been quoted saying he ultimately chose Notre Dame, because he believed that God guided him to attend there. At Notre Dame, he quickly excelled on the field, playing in all twelve games as a Freshman, he was named a Freshman All American by College Football News.
RELATIONSHIP WITH LENNAY KEKUA (October 2011)
What Manti believed happened: Manti believed he met a girl online named Lennay Kekua who attended Stanford University. Manti and Lennay started talking online as friends, but they had so much in common that in early in 2012 they officially entered a relationship. Manti and Lennay talked on the phone nightly until one of them would fall asleep. Manti’s relationship with Lennay was very serious and he believed he was in love with her. He told many of his friends about her and he believed they would get married one day.
This is Lennay Kekua who is described as a 22 year old Hawaiin Stanford student who loves to surf.
The fake Twitter Account Tuiasosopo used went by the Twitter names @loveloveloveYOU, @LennayKay and finally @LoveMSMK.
What really happened: Lennay Kekua never actually existed. A male named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who had known Manti Te’o made a fake Twitter account using a girl’s Facebook pictures to pose as a female. Ronaiah contacted Manti on Twitter in October of 2011 and they started talking. Manti and Ronaiah began talking every day, but only either online or on the phone. It is still unclear whether it was Ronaiah talking on the phone with Manti impersonating a female voice or if someone else was involved with this hoax. By January 2012 they officially became a couple. The woman from the pictures was Diane O’meara who went to High School with Ronaiah, but had no knowledge that he was using her pictures. Te’o never actually met Lennay in person and whenever Manti would try to meet up with Lennay, Ronaiah would make an excuse of why the two could not meet up. This false relationship went on for about a year. This is a process commonly known as “catfishing.”
This is Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, during the hoax Manti was under the impression that Ronaiah was Lennay’s cousin.
LENNAY KEKUA GETS IN SEVERE CAR ACCIDENT (April 28, 2012)
What Manti believed happened: Manti received a call from Kekua’s brother, Noa on April 28, 2012 saying Lennay had been in a serious car accident and was taken to a hospital in Los Angeles. When Lennay was in the hospital she was in a comma, but her family would still put the phone to her ear so Manti could talk to her and hear her breathing on the other end.
What really happened: Ronaiah Tuiasosopo made up the fact that Lennay had gotten into a car accident and was taken to the hospital.
LENNAY KEKUA GETS DIAGNOSED WITH LEUKEMIA (June 2012)
What Manti believed happened: Kekua informed Te’o that she had been diagnosed with leukemia in June of 2012 while she was still in the hospital for her car accident.
What really happened: Ronaiah Tuiasosopo told Manti that Lennay was diagnosed with cancer which was another one of Ronaiah’s lies. Tuiasosopo made up this lie in case he ever needed a way out of this false relationship and to keep Manti talking to him.
TRAGIC DEATH OF GRANDMOTHER FOLLOWED BY THE NEWS OF KEKUA’S DEATH (September 12, 2012)
What Manti believed happened: On the morning of September 12, 2012, Te’o was awakened by a phone call from his parents informing him that his grandmother Annette Santiago had died at the age of 72 after an extended illness back in Hawaii. Six hours later, Lennay Kekua’s older brother called Manti on the phone crying and informed him that Lennay Kekua had died of leukemia. Before she had passed, Lennay made Te’o promise that if anything happened to her, he wouldn’t miss any football games. According to Manti, the last words that Kekua said to him were “I love you.” Manti was fully convinced that Lennay had passed away from leukemia.
What really happened: Ronaiah Tuiasosopo chose to lie to Te’o that Lennay Kekua died shortly after Manti Teo’s grandmother Annette Santiago actually did die on September 12, 2012. Ronaiah said in an interview with Doctor Phil that he chose to end it because he needed to get his life back and find out who he truly was again.
Manti spending time with his grandmother Annette before she passed away; these two were very close.
NOTRE DAME WINS BEHIND TE’O’S LEADERSHIP (September 15, 2012)
On September 15, the Saturday following the reported deaths of both Manti’s grandmother and “girlfriend” Manti played in a game versus Michigan State. Manti played excellent in that game recording 12 tackles, recovering a fumble and breaking up two passes in the win. In a post game interview Manti was quoted saying that “they were with him and he couldn’t have done it without them…”, referring to his late girlfriend and grandmother. After the game, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly awarded the game ball to Lennay and told Manti to take the game ball back to Hawaii for her.
Manti pointing to the sky at Lennay and his grandmother after Notre Dame’s victory over Michigan State.
STORY OF DEATHS HIT HEADLINES: TE’O RISES TO FAME (October 6, 2012)
On October 6, 2012, Manti Te’o did an interview on College Gameday with Gene Wojciechowski where he discussed the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend and revealed his inspirational story to the world. In the days following the October 6th interview of his heart warming story with ESPN, he rose to fame and became a house hold name for many sports fans. His story inspired many and his name appeared on Sports Center frequently. Te’o’ story was arguably the biggest story of the college football season.
NOTRE DAME SUCCEEDS BEHINDS TE’O’S LEADERSHIP (November 24, 2012)
Notre Dame finished their regular season undefeated with it’s final victory over the USC Trojans which unofficially put them in the BCS National Championship game, college football’s highest honor.
This is a Sports Illustrated story about Manti Te’o and his accomplishments on the field in his rise to fame.
PHONE CALL FROM LENNAY KEKUA REVEALING SHE IS STILL ALIVE (December 6, 2012)
Manti received a phone call on December 6, 2012 in Lennay Kekua’s voice saying that she was not dead and was in fact alive. Manti Te’o was very confused and angered by the phone call and decided to keep this secret to himself until December 26th.
HEISMAN TROPHY AWARDED (December 8, 2012)
On December 8, 2012, Manti Te’o was voted runner up for the Heisman Trophy to Texas A&M Johnny Manziel, which is the highest individual honor a college football player can receive. He also won several other awards including the Maxwell Award, Lombardi Award and Walter Camp Award. This solidified his spot as one of the most decorated defensive players in college history.
Manti Te’o comes in second in Heisman Trophy voting losing to Johnny Manziel by only 153 first place votes.
MANTI TE’O NOTIFIES NOTRE DAME OFFICIALS ABOUT THE POSSIBLE HOAX (December 26, 2012)
On December 26, 2012, Manti met with head coach Brian Kelly and the athletic director Jack Swarbrick to share his concerns about the phone call he received regarding his relationship with his late girlfriend Lennay Kekua.
BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (January 7, 2013)
Notre Dame lost in an extremely lopsided National Championship to Alabama 42 to 14. Manti Te’o had arguably one of his worst games of the season, only recording 3 unassisted tackles.
Manti Te’o misses several tackles in the BCS Championship game after only missing two tackles all year during the regular season.
NEWS OF LENNAY KEKUA NON-EXISTENCE HITS HEADLINES (January 16, 2013)
On January 16, 2013 the sports website Deadspin.com broke the news that not only did Manti Te’o’s supposed late girlfriend not die, but she never existed in the first place. This news became national news and got all the headlines after it broke. In the ensuing days and weeks different bits of information were revealed of this bizarre story and it became one of the biggest sports stories of the year so far.
When the story first came out it is not clear whether Te’o was in on it or not.
MANTI TE’O INTERVIEWS WITH JEREMY SHAAP (January 18, 2013)
On January 18, two days after the news broke about Manti’s non-existent girlfriend, he did an two hour interview off the air with sports writer Jeremy Shaap. In the interview he denied any involvement in the creation of his fictitious girlfriend Lennay Kekua.
In Te’o’s interview with Jeremy Shaap he denies any involvement with the creation of Lennay Kekua.
DIANE O’MEARA INTERVIEW ON THE TODAY SHOW (January 22, 2013)
A few days after the news broke Diane O’meara, the woman in the photos that was supposed to be Lennay Kekua, did an interview on the Today Show. In the interview she reveals that Ronaiah was a classmate of hers in High School that reached out to her only once in the beginning of December of 2012 asking for a photo of her with the date December 21st, 2012 on it. He convinced her by making up a false story about his cousin being in a car accident and wanted the photo to prove to Manti that “Lennay Kekua” was still alive.
When Diane O’meara sends this picture, she is convinced it is for a slide show Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is making to inspire his cousin to get better.
MANTI TE’O INTERVIEW WITH KATIE COURIC (January 24, 2013)
Just over a week after the news broke, Manti did another one hour interview with Katie Couric where he maintained his innocence and again denied ever being involved with the creation of Lennay Kekua. Manti plays several voice mails on his phone from Lennay Kekua that appear to be a woman’s voice.
In Manti’s interview with Katie Couric several voicemails are played from Lennay Kekua that appear to be in a females voice.
RONAIAH TUIASOSOPO INTERVIEW WITH DR. PHIL (January 31, 2013,February 1, 2013)
On January 31st and February 1st, 2013 Ronaiah Tuiasosopo did a two part interview with Dr. Phil, where he admits to being the one who “cat fished” Manti Te’o and stressed the fact that Manti had no idea of anything that was going on. He admits that he had strong feelings for Manti and was confused about his sexuality. Ronaiah also claimed to be the voice on the phone with Manti in the voice mails, but conflicting reports were later released that it might have been his female cousin who was also in on the hoax.
In Tuiasosopo’s interview with Doctor Phil he admits to have fallen in love with Te’o and he reenacts the female’s voice he claims to have used in the voice mails.
GOING FORWARD: COMBINE AND NFL DRAFT (February 25, 2013-)
Previous to the BCS National Championship game, Manti was projected to be a top 10 pick in the upcoming NFL draft. After this story came out about his fake girlfriend, Manti went on to play poorly in the National Championship game and have an unimpressive NFL Combine on February 25th. This has led some NFL draft analysts to believe his draft stock has dropped out of the first round. Manti is entered into the 2013 NFL draft that will take place on April 25, 2013 and is attempting to put this whole girlfriend scandal behind him.
Manti runs his forty yard dash in 4.82 seconds at the NFL Combine which is considered very slow.
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