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Manti Te'o SPEAKS

I Knew It Was Crazy ... But

I'm Innocent

1/19/2013 9:33 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

0119_manti_teo_apManti Te'o
has broken his silence ... admitting he knew having a relationship with a "girlfriend" solely online was "crazy," insisting he was a victim, and revealing that the culprit has now apologized.
Manti gave an audio interview to ESPN -- the photo was taken in the middle of the chat -- in which he acknowledges Ronaiah Tuiasosopo tweeted him a full confession two days ago. You gotta love it ... even the confession was online. ESPN says it was followed up by a phone call.

Manti says, "I wasn't faking it. I wasn't part of this."

Manti says he now knows -- presumably from Tuiasosopo -- "Two guys and a girl are responsible for the whole thing." He says he doesn't know the identity of the second guy or the girl. He adds he didn't know for sure until Wednesday that it was all a hoax, when Tuiasosopo admitted it to him.

Manti explained why he lied to his dad and others, when he said or intimated he had seen the fictitious Lennay Kekua in the flesh. "I knew that -- I even knew that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn't meet, and that alone people find out that this gir who died I was so invested in, and I didn't meet her as well ... So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away so people wouldn't think I was some crazy dude."

As for one of the big questions -- why didn't he at least Skype -- he says he tried to speak with Lennay through Skype or FaceTime several times, but the person on the other end was in a "black box" and couldn't be seen. He says he also tried meeting her a few times in L.A. and Hawaii, but she kept canceling. 

And this is a little weird ... Manti says Lennay once asked him for his checking account number so she could send him money. He did not provide it. Still, no suspicion.

Manti says the fictitious relationship was not a full four years -- they would take breaks, but it got intense after she said her father had died.

He says things got crazy after Lennay's fake car accident when she was in the hospital, and he could only hear her breathing over the phone -- "I slept on the phone with her every night ...the only thing that could help her sleep was if I was on the phone." 

As for why he didn't visit her in the hospital, he says, "It never really crossed my mind.  I don't know. I was in school."

As for why he didn't attend her "funeral," he says, "Her mom told them [Lennay's family] they did not want me to come," adding, "I didn't want that to be the first time that I saw her was laying in a coffin."

Manti says on December 6 -- three months after Lennay had supposedly died --  a woman called from the number Lennay had used, saying, "Manti, it's me." He says that was the first time it was apparent to him -- he had been scammed. 

Manti says he doesn't hold a grudge -- "I don't wish an ill thing to somebody. I just hope he learns.  I think embarrassment is big enough."

For more sports stories, check out tmzsports.com!

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Innocent?.. Innocent of what? Innocent of telling lies? Innocent of misleading people for personal gain? What church would say you are innocent? What sponsor or team would want you to represent them? Sadly, the answer is too many. Live with yourself as long as you can.

610 days ago


Give him a break. Who hasn't had an imaginary girlfriend? I've had hundreds!

610 days ago


The delay in him speaking out was to compensate the dumb-a!@ cousins so they would admit he had nothing to do with it. Even an anonymous teammate invalidates his claim that he was duped. He bettef have some thick skin and rabbit ears. A blow-up doll will probably turn up sometime during his training camp. I can see him going to management to complain just like Leaf did when they took his credit card and charged a five-figure dinner on his card.

610 days ago


This kid's a freakin' idiot...football star or no!!! If he gets a degree from Notre Dame, that diminishes that entire brand for me -- what he deserves is a degree from a community college, with summer school thrown in!!! GET A LIFE, DUDE!!! YOU SUCK!!!

610 days ago


Who cares? I'm honestly confused as to what the big deal is. It's like the kid in school who said he had a girlfriend out of town and then really didn't... he got made of fun of sure but he wasn't threatened with detention or expulsion. Whatever this real/fake alive/dead chick deal is I fail to see why this should qualify for public chest thumping or effect his school or future in football. He didn't 'scam' anyone out of money.. he didn't have a fake life insurance policy... Christ no one at all was hurt by this in any way shape or form. So why is the media all over it?? Are there not enough NFL/Football players, getting arrested, murdering, or committing suicide for them to report on???

610 days ago


Probably should quit football and get a job investigating stolen identities.

610 days ago


...the most annoying part of this over-hyped story are all of the spelling mistakes. I can't misspell a word without the red squiggle underline appearing instantly. tmz is starting to annoy me...your job seems relatively fun & easy...show some pride and take it somewhat seriously and report in somewhat of a "put together" fashion.

610 days ago


This story is so boring

610 days ago


Mani, Granny is dead you can stop hiding. Book Diana Ross and host your own badazz coming out party....all is forgiven

610 days ago


This guy reminds me of Jan Brady and George Glass.

610 days ago


Dude....who cares anymore about this lame ass story? Its played out amd i dont need an update about this clown every 3 hours.

610 days ago


A little problem with his story here. He supposedly found out this was a hoax on 12/6. Yet on 12/8 and 12/9 he talks about her in two interviews. The guy is a liar, and not a very good one.


610 days ago


She is scraping a living as a side-show freak.......

610 days ago


Maybe I'd believe him if he was a young naive teenager but he was in the running for the Heisman award and he thought this emotional made up story would win him sympathy votes , but thankfully the right man aka Johnny Football won it with his talent . At the end of the day everyone is glad this Lying idiot didn't get this prestigious award.

610 days ago


I didn't know this guy was looking for a relationship online....Im available and most important REAL. ;). either this guy is very stupid or has some issues making stuff up.

610 days ago
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