January 17, 2013
On Dec. 6, Notre Dame officials said, Manti Te’o received an alarming phone call: his dead girlfriend, whose loss had inspired him during what had become a triumphant year for the Fighting Irish, might still be alive. Either that or Te’o, a gifted linebacker with a reputation for trusting others, had been the victim of a hoax, and the woman he thought he had come to know online and through long, emotional phone calls had never really existed.de him believe he may have been duped into a relationship with an imaginary woman.
Te’o, a Notre Dame official said this week, was badly shaken by the call.
Nonetheless, two days later, on Dec. 8 at the Heisman Trophy ceremony, Te’o was asked about his most unforgettable moment of the season. Te’o, clearly aware of questions surrounding his girlfriend’s death, responded with little hesitation: the memory he would never forget from the 2012 season was the moment he learned his girlfriend was dead.
That sequence of events in December was one of many being pored over Thursday — by journalists and bloggers, students at Notre Dame and an American public trying to figure out the truth at the heart of one of the most bizarre of sports stories.
Was Te’o a sympathetic victim of a cruel fraud, or a calculating participant in a phony story that had been milked to aid his bid for the Heisman Trophy?
The series of events in early December, though, like so much else that has emerged about Te’o and his girlfriend in the last 48 hours, is hardly conclusive. Te’o, in giving the interview on Dec. 8, quite possibly was nothing more than a frightened and confused young man, unsure himself of what was going on or what to say.
On Thursday, a day of little clarity and deepening mystery, Notre Dame stuck by its official version: Te’o was the target of a meanspirited and vicious hoax, and the university’s hired investigators had determined that it involved a vast cast of characters, all engaged in an effort to humiliate a humble, private and perhaps somewhat naïve young man in the public spotlight.
Te’o, for his part, did not speak. His agent did not offer a statement, and a rumored interview on national television never occurred. His agent told The Associated Press that he had been in Bradenton, Fla., training at the IMG Academy in preparation for the N.F.L. draft.
One thing in the odd, evolving drama did seem to become clearer: as far back as early December, there were some people in the Twitter world who were beginning to sound alarms about the authenticity of Te’o’s inspirational story.
Those people online maintained openly that they believed Te’o had been duped, with some pointing to a California man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo as the architect of the scheme. They even joked about the embarrassment and absurdity of the fake story line as Notre Dame prepared to play in the Bowl Championship Series title game against Alabama.
On Dec. 5, one Twitter message was sent to The New ND Nation, with 7,000 followers, saying it needed “to know the truth” about Te’o’s girlfriend.
A blogger, Justin Megahan, collected some of the Twitter messages in one blog post and titled it “Catfished,” referring to “Catfish,” a 2010 documentary in which a woman created a fake online persona to strike up a relationship.
The alarms online, such as they were, never seemed to gain wider attention, perhaps because, at the time, a hoax seemed an unlikely possibility.
Even a month and a half later — and after the Web site Deadspin first reported on the hoax on Wednesday — figuring out the exact truth continued to be challenging.
As of Thursday evening, the people identified by Deadspin to be behind the hoax, including Tuiasosopo, had not emerged to tell their side of the story. Telephone calls to Tuiasosopo were not successful. Some people who appeared close to him shunned journalists on their Twitter accounts.
Manti Te’o was born on January 26th, 1991 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manti_Te%27o
January 26th, 1991
1 + 26 +1+9+9+1 = 47= his life lesson = Everybody knows his name. Legacy.
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