When Notre Dame lost to Alabama in the BCS Championship Game earlier this month, the silver lining for the Fighting Irish was that star linebacker Manti Te'o had bravely fought through the tragedy of losing his grandmother and leukemia-stricken girlfriend Lennay Kekua on the same day back in September to lead his team to one of its most successful seasons in recent memory. With the sports world constantly rocked with more bad than good news these days, it made sense for everyone to grab onto a heart-warming story like this. Upon news of Kekua's story (as told by Te'o), some cancer fundraising activities even started up around the country.
But no one, not CBS, not Sports Illustrated, nor any other mainstream outlet or sports blog sites that covered Te'o during the past season raised any serious questions about his account. It was only after popular online sports site Deadspin.com investigated and wrote a bombshell of an article (helped by an anonymous tipster) the other day that what was a truly unbelievable personal triumph-over-tragedy story was revealed as not believable at all—there was no such person named Lennay Kekua.
It was a fictitious person created by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, according to a woman in her mid-20s and church friend of his who he allegedly confessed to last month. She spoke about this anonymously to Shelley Smith of ESPN and is convinced Te'o truly was a victim of Tuiasosopo's sophisticated lies. (The woman also says this wasn't the first time Tuiasosopo duped somebody.)
Te'o hasn't told his full story as of yet but through CAA, which represents him, he called himself a victim of a cruel, "sick joke." He reportedly knew this in early December, however, and told team officials what he knew on the day after Christmas, so it is still unclear why he never went public about the hoax.