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Manti Te'o

'No Way Involved in Hoax'

Says Cancer Victim's Family

1/17/2013 11:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Manti Te'o's emotions were too real ... too authentic ... to have been lying about the fate of Lennay Kekua -- this according to the family of a 12-year-old cancer victim who met with the Notre Dame star after the death of his supposed girlfriend.

TMZ spoke with Brian and Louise Smith -- who received a letter from Manti back in October when he learned their 12-year-old daughter, Bridget, was suffering from cancer.

In his letter to the family, Manti said he knew what they were going through, since his girlfriend had just passed away from cancer.

After Bridget passed away, Manti met with her parents and they shared an emotional moment together.

Louise tells TMZ ... Manti was full of humility and kindness when they met ... and only cared about how they were doing in light of the family tragedy.

Louise says he seemed like such an honest, real person  ... "It's very hard for me to believe he made this up. I don't believe it for a second."

"There's no way this guy knew anything about this hoax."

Louise also says ... after the family received the initial letter from Manti, she reached out to Te'o and asked if she could share the details of the letter with the media.

Louise says Manti replied, "That's up to you ... it was for you and your family. You do with it what you wish."

Her point -- Manti was not about the publicity, but felt a real connection over what he thought was a real loss.

Are you buyin' what he's sellin'?


For more sports stories, check out tmzsports.com!

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So these would be character witnesses in the story? But nothing really to do with the hoax right?

641 days ago


well meeting a family who just lost their kid would make me emotional on its own.who is to say the emotion he showed wasnt due to seeing the little girls parents upset?

641 days ago


Wot, I'm confused, didn't pookah get diagnosed with cancer and the girlfriend died in a car accident? Sigh, I've read so many stories I can't get it straight.

641 days ago


He tells this cancer victim and her family that he knows how they feel because he just lost his girlfriend to cancer? The girlfriend he never even met? But he knows what they are going through? And there was no funeral. Liar! Liar!

641 days ago


This story has more plot twists than Lindsay Lohan's "life".

641 days ago

Lynn M    

I believe him. He was pranked. It was a rotten thing to do to such a trusting person. Shame on those involved.

641 days ago


WHO CARES??? This isn't news? He either lied or he didn't, but no one got hurt but him. Can we let this go? This is the least interesting story ever. I feel like I'm back in high school.

641 days ago

No comment    

How come he never skyped her or never face-timed her? That doesn't make sense in today's tech era? Where are the 8 hour all night phone calls, the bills, that show how they fell asleep together on the phone?

Every relationship I have been in, you want to be with the new magical person you love. Yet you don't visit after he car accident or why she is fight leukemia.

641 days ago

I am Spartacus    

I find it hard to believe this guy who, EVERYONE and ANYONE who has come in contact with says is this amazing and kind person, would be two faced and creating this whole story. I have an easier time believing a Mormon kid from Hawaii is gullible and naive and got played hard.

641 days ago


Yea there story proves it, thanks for that asinine conclusion. How about Manai come out and explain what happened not hide under a rock since he's known about this for 6 weeks. What a lying joke.

641 days ago


Notre Dame cares more about a tearjerker fake girlfriend real girl rape victim of these Jerks! Suck it Irish!

641 days ago

el polacko    

it would have been much less 'embarrassing' for him to have just come out of the closet rather than thinking that he had to invent a sick, dying girlfriend. yes, there's homophobia in sports but there's also a lot of gay men. it's time for everybody to accept reality for the mental health of everyone involved. nobody should be forced to lie about their life.

641 days ago


The thing that gets me is his interviews when and after she dies are in present tense. Why wouldn't he speak of her in past tense. And why doesn't he call his cellphone provider for the bills? Or the minutes? What girl says, don't come to my buriel, just play hard for me? Or that he said he was bedside for her treatments? There are just too many holes in his story.

641 days ago



641 days ago


Way too much work to cover up a secret lifestyle.

641 days ago
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