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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
1.

jason    

First, to say he's full of ****

553 days ago
2.

milly5    

Did his grandma die too?

553 days ago
3.

mike_in_canada    

His girlfriend was real! Clint Eastwood spoke to her at the Republican National Convention.

553 days ago
4.

Your S&M Girlfriend    

So who is she? Bring her around and let's see her. If it is true and he was duped by some woman on the internet she's probably one of those 300 pound trailer women who have three illegitimate pasty faced children who she locks in a room with a tv set while she gets off on chat room sex. Otherwise, he's lying.

553 days ago
5.

priceless    

HIs crisis management guy is a genius.

553 days ago
6.

I am Spartacus    

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was the one behind this and Deadspin is claiming that he & Te'o knew each other so it sounds like he had to be in on it. It also says this isn't the only time Ronaiah Tuiasosopo has done this.

553 days ago
7.

Black    

He is a schemer and will be second to say he is full of **** crap

553 days ago
8.

Pudding Tang    

Is this the new trend? For Manti Tight Ends to claim to have girlfriends that turn out to be non-existent?

553 days ago
9.

NorthEastElite    

Um... Read the dead spin article folks. He made many statements, to many different media outlets, regarding how the met at a game, how she visited him in Hawaii, as well as sending roses (where did he send them?) to her "family" for the funeral. Now it was just an "online" relationship? Speculation is that she was possibly a "beard" who him and his conspirators killed off when people were asking when they could meet her. Provided to narrative that he would not have to answer questions about not being romantically linked to a woman for a long time. But I don't necessarily subscribe to that. Don't shoot the messenger. What I can say definitely is that he has mentioned meeting her in person, andI now he denies it.

553 days ago
10.

viewer101    

his latest statement doesn't jive with anything he's said in the past. makes no damn sense other than he had to be in on it.

553 days ago
11.

Phreaky    

He's not the first to fall for this scam, and he won't be the last I'm sure.

553 days ago
12.

daringsugar    

He's lying!

553 days ago
13.

TheTruthIs    

Liar!

553 days ago
14.

Joey    

He is totally involved He was trying to get Heisman votes because he knew taht he couldn't win the Heisman Lying Sack of $hit

553 days ago
15.

tgrfan42069    

so he told his dad that he visited her and so forth..how did he learn of the fake girls death? this smells rotten that he was in on it.

553 days ago
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