Website: Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's dead girlfriend was 'hoax'

University calls Te'o, family 'victim'

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o invented the story about his deceased Stanford-student girlfriend, according to an article by Deadspin, but a Notre Dame spokesman said Te'o and his family were victims of a hoax. 

"On Dec. 26, Notre Dame coaches were informed by Manti Te’o and his parents that Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua, apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia," said university spokesman Dennis Brown in a statement released Wednesday, about an hour after the Deadspin story broke on the Internet.

The story of the death of Te'o's girlfriend -- which Deadspin calls "The most heartbreaking and inspirational story of the college football season" -- says that Te'o learned of her death and the death of his grandmother in a span of six hours right before taking the field.

Te'o went on to lead his team to a victory against Michigan State, totaling 12 tackles despite receiving the devastating news. 

Though Te'o's grandmother actually did die as reported, Deadspin reports that Te'o's girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, didn't die and never even existed.

Te'o released a statement Wednesday night saying, "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."

Te'o goes on to say he believed the relationship was authentic, but he was humiliated and hurt to find out he was the victim of "someone's sick joke and constant lies."

"In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious," Te'o's statement continues. "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."

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