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Te’o tells ESPN: Not involved in creating hoax
Te'o told ESPN that he wasn’t entirely sure he was the victim of a hoax until earlier this week when Tuiasosopo apologized. As Notre Dame officials said earlier, he did get a call from the person posing as Kekua on Dec. 6 _ but it was to tell him she had not died at all, and to carry on their courtship.
“My relationship with Lennay wasn’t a four-year relationship,” Te'o said. “There were blocks and times and periods in which we would talk and then it would end,” but he offered her a “shoulder to cry on” when she told him her father had died.
“It never really crossed my mind. I don’t know. I was in school,” he told ESPN.
Then came the day in September when his grandmother died and the woman known as Kekua reached out to him.
“I was angry. I didn’t want to be bothered,” he told ESPN. “We got in an argument. She was saying, you know, I’m trying to be here for you. I didn’t want to be bothered. I wanted to be left alone. I just wanted to be by myself. Last thing she told me was `Just know I love you.’”
ESPN did not play audio of the interview, relying instead on descriptions of Te'o and his statements from reporter Schaap. Audio clips were posted later. According to the reporter, Te'o was calm, and had no interest in going on camera.
“He was very relieved, he told me at the end of it, to have had a chance to tell his story,” Schaap said.
Te'o also provided details of just how devilish the hoax was _ how Kekua spoke to his mother about Mormonism, how he could hear a supposed ventilator when she was in her coma, even how she sought his checking account number so she could send him some money (he declined).
At the Notre Dame student union early Saturday, many people didn’t even seem to notice the story about Te'o playing out on television.
In the lounge section, six people watched ESPN as the report aired on TVs on opposite sides of the room and several said they weren’t satisfied with what they saw and heard.
Tony Stedge, a freshman from Seattle, said he supports Te'o, but he’d still like to hear from the star player.
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