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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

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Previous 15 Comments | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
61.

John    

Hey TMZ, Protip: When you have a multi-paragraph quote, you use opening quotes at the beginning of each new paragraph. No closing quotes until the end, though,

Best of luck.

558 days ago
62.

Santasunsetwoodica    

I lost 1k on nd! You guys diddnt even show up! Mabey nd threw the game.

558 days ago
63.

Scary    

Why do we care? Can he play or not? Why does any of the personal stuff off the field matter that much?

558 days ago
64.

Msdee    

No body cares, we just want him to play!

558 days ago
65.

Alena    

First off, you have no idea if he's being honest or lying. He could of very well had been played by someone online and lied about how he met her when talking to people about her because he was probably embarassed by the fact that he had met her online and never face to face. He probably lied about a lot of things so people wouldnt make fun of his "online" relationship. Talking from experience, it is possible. And trust me, there are some sick people out there that make up an entire life online and get some sort of thrill by catfishing others. So i think he probably did get played... and then found out that she wasn't real... people should find this sicko and question her about it!!!!

558 days ago
66.

lolurdumb    

Fyi if ur in a "relationship " with someone u met online n never met, THATS NOT A RELATIONSHIP! GET A LIFE!!!

558 days ago
67.

GetOverYourself    

Good God, just admit you aren't into chicks already. Stop with the lies!

557 days ago
68.

Walter Trucklord     

If Manti is signed by the jets they will have a virgin and an internet creep. Imagine the team chemistry...

557 days ago
69.

Jessica    

IN AN INTERVIEW HE SAID HE MET HER AT STANFORD........he's totally lying!!! He got caught....and needs to apologize.

557 days ago
70.

ROY    

LEAVE THE GUY ALONE....SO WHAT IF HE IS GAY....WHATS THE BIG DEAL

549 days ago
Previous 15 Comments | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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