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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Examining The Manti Te’o Fake Girlfriend Hoax

In this April 2012, photo, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o appears at the Blue and Gold spring NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind. (Joe Raymond/AP)

In this April 2012, photo, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o appears at the Blue and Gold spring NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind. (Joe Raymond/AP)

People in the small Hawaii hometown of Manti Te’o are offering support for the Notre Dame linebacker, after the story of his girlfriend and her death from leukemia were revealed as a hoax.

No one answered the door Wednesday evening and no one appeared to be inside the modest, single-story wood home of Te’o’s parents, Brian and Ottilia Te’o, in the small coastal town of Laie on Oahu’s northern shore where Manti Te’o, an All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist, was born.

But members of the mostly Mormon community said they were dumbfounded, and didn’t believe he would have knowingly perpetrated such a story. The town of about 6,000 people, roughly an hour’s drive from Honolulu, is home to a small satellite campus of Hawaii’s Brigham Young University,

Lokelani Kaiahua said Te’o’s parents were her classmates, and she knew them to have strong family values they instilled in their children.

“I just don’t see something like that being made up from him or having any part of that because they’re not those kind of people,” she said while sitting and talking with friends a few doors down from the Te’o family home. “Everybody’s kind of like `what is going on?”‘

According to media accounts that surrounded Te’o this season, his purported girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died of leukemia in September. But on Wednesday, the website Deadspin.com posted a lengthy story saying there was no evidence that she ever existed.

Notre Dame officials then confirmed the hoax but were insistent that Te’o was only the victim.

Te’o is a hero and role model to many children in Laie and nearby small towns like Haaula, Kaaawa and Kahuku along the two-lane highway snaking through Oahu’s northeastern coast.

Students at Haaula often wear Notre Dame jerseys with his number “5″ on them, and Te’o has returned to the area to talk to students about the importance of staying in school, said school administrator Makala Paakaula, 38.

“He always keeps giving back to his community,” Paakaula said.

Te’o should be lauded for uniting Notre Dame during his senior year when he could have left for the NFL, she said.

“It’s amazing how he brought together the whole school to become one ohana, one family, where they all belonged, where they all had a purpose,” Paakaula said.

Many people expressed anger toward whoever was behind the entire affair.

“If he got hoaxed, that’s not his fault – shame on them,” Paakaula said, “because he has a very trusting, open heart.”

Guest:


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  • Clara

    For Mr Manti Te’o
    In your spare time when you aren’t playing football, ponder this thought by Walter Kerr, an American writer and Broadway theater critic.
    “Half the world is composed of idiots, the other half of people clever enough to take indecent advantage of them.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

     I am so glad our best journalists are all working on this very important story.  It is all over the internet and I wait with bated breath for the next update!  HURRY!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OH7YTOPBQEQXO5PU2JSKS2R27Q Andy of the North

    You know…WHO CARES?  Why pester this kid - who by all accounts seems like a great guy?  Was anyone hurt?  So we have people in Hawaii knocking on his door and bothering neighbors?  WHY???

    It’s an interesting story, in a way, but do we really need “feet on the ground”, camping out in his hometown?   Leave him alone.

  • Laura

    I am related to Manti Te’o, my brother is married to his aunt. I know the whole family, and I am certain that it is 100% more likely that he was duped than that he was lying. The whole family is very honest and , to my mind, just a little naive. Manti is an awesome kid and it really hurts me to see that he is going through this.

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