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Manti Te'o

I Was Duped

and I'm Humiliated

1/16/2013 3:24 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

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Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o claims he's a victim who fell for someone's "sick joke" ... and he's really embarrassed over the scandal that's erupted over his not-really-dead girlfriend.

Back in September, Te'o told multiple media outlets that his girlfriend Lennay Kekua had died after a bout with cancer ... hours after his grandmother passed away.   The story was so emotional, it helped catapult him to fame.

But earlier today, a story broke that Lennay was a fiction -- which means she never died because she never lived.  Question is ... was Manti in on the hoax?

According to Manti ... the answer is no. The football star now says:

"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.

It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.

I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been.

In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.

Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft."

Are you buyin' what he's sellin'?

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93 COMMENTS

No Avatar
16.

Soetoro    

He's a liar, nice story loser

610 days ago
17.

Kammified    

His girlfriend was non-existent, and so was his football team vs the Crimson Tide!

610 days ago
18.

chubbs McBuff    

I had a gay friend in high school who said that he had girlfriend but she lived in Canada. Maybe this was Manti Te'o's way of covering up the fact that he is gay.

610 days ago
19.

robbed    

why does he have to mention the NFL draft at the end? kinda takes away credibility when your life has been dragged thru the mud and you are thinking about work in the morning.

610 days ago
20.

Clay the don sippin Dom P daily like John.    

Sounds like another HOOK on the SANDY.. These tv shows like Law and Order play with the emotional humans and brainwash..

610 days ago
21.

Shannon    

Easy enough to prove, with all of those '8 hour phone calls' on his bill, right?

610 days ago
22.

gogo    

I am surprised TMZ didn't try to claim they broke the story like they do with others.

610 days ago
23.

jason    

Manti Te'o is now officially the Richard Henne, aka Balloon Boy Dad, of the sports world.

610 days ago
24.

dathan    

Dumb

610 days ago
25.

whitey ford    

Anybody who watched the BCS title game already knew he was humiliated.

610 days ago
26.

Dave    

His "sad" story obviously influenced some of those foolish Heisman voters who elevated him in voting way above what his level of talent merited. His inability to tackle in the BCS game speaks for itself.

610 days ago
27.

Areader    

I believe him......watch the show Catfish on MTV!

610 days ago
28.

Dave    

I'd like to see the text of what he actually said to the media outlets in September. If he called her his girlfriend when he had never even met her..... wow, how stupid did he think the media was? oh wait, no one called him on it. not saying much for the media. Cronkite rolling over in grave.

610 days ago
29.

Nonsense    

Judge, I didn't know there was beer in that bottle. I thought it was apple juice. People are so mean to me. i was so upset cause my 100 year old grandma died.

610 days ago
30.

rob    

I guess this guys hero is Lance Armstrong.

610 days ago
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