Questions are swirling about Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the person who sports site Deadspin suggests posed as Lennay Kekua — or at least created her. Kekua is the fictional girlfriend of Notre Dame Linebacker Manti Te’o who, the football star claimed, died within hours of his own grandmother's passing in September.
A Deadspin article
revealed Kekua, who Te'o said he dated exclusively online, was a hoax on Wednesday.
Deadspin identified the 22-year-old Tuiasosopo as a former star high school quarterback who became a religious musician and who personally knew Te’o.
Deadspin claims Tuiasosopo was corresponding with a former high school classmate, a woman whose name Deadspin did not reveal but is from Torrence, Calif. She told the sports website that she had emailed her headshot to Tuiasosopo when he asked for it.
The headshot was used as Kekua's Twitter profile photo. Deadspin claims Tuiasosopo maintained the fictitious girlfriend's handle.
The woman had no idea her photo was being used, she told Deadspin after the site tracked her down through an exhaustive photo search and then contacted her.
Upon hearing the news, the woman then contacted Tuiasosopo, expressing her dismay that her photo had been used to impersonate a fictitious girl.
According to the woman, Tuiasosopo "immediately began acting weird," telling her "don't worry about it."
Shortly after the exchange, the woman's photo was removed from the fake Twitter profile.
Whether Tuiasosopo is the person behind the made-up twitter account, or knows the person who is, is still not known.
"Manti and Ronaiah are family, or at least family friends," an unidentified mutual friend told Deadspin, citing multiple tweets between the two throughout 2012.
It's unclear if Te'o was involved in the ruse, though some involved tell Deadspin that he was, according to The Atlantic. Some speculate that Te'o thought the gut-wrenching story would help him win a Heisman award, for which he was nominated.
Interestingly, Te'o wasn't Kekua's first "boyfriend," according to sources in the exposé, who said Tuiasosopo posed as the girl before.
Additionally, Kekua shared Tuiasosopo's music on Twitter, which was originally broadcast on YouTube.
Also, Tuiasosopo was a victim of a car accident one month before Te'o claimed Lennay was in a car accident.
In addition to knowing Te'o, Tuiasosopo came from a big football family. His father previously played for the University of Southern California. Additionally, the religious musician also had an uncle who previously played for the Los Angeles Rams, while another uncle was a defensive line coach at the University of Colorado.
Tuiasosopo was, at one time, somewhat of a football prospect. After high school, however, the star quarterback left the game and decided to dedicate himself to his church, where his father was the pastor. Tuiasosopo presently leads the church's band.
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