The story that has trumped everything else the internet can possibly offer since it broke has taken a turn in Manti Te’o's favor.
Prior to Notre Dame’s upset win over Michigan State, the dual deaths of the Fighting Irish linebacker’s grandmother and girlfriend gripped the nation as a tragic event for one young man and a source of inspiration for millions.
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Te’o collected more than 100 tackles in each of his previous three seasons. However, it wasn’t until after this tragedy made immediate and national headlines that the heart and soul of the Irish began to gain momentum as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.
The captain of the undefeated Irish was invited to New York City as a Heisman finalist and ended up finishing second behind Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M. In the process, he took home a slew of defensive and positional awards as an absolute media darling.
Then, after Notre Dame and Te’o were embarrassed by Alabama in the BCS title game, Deadspin broke a story announcing to the nation that it was all a complete, total fraud.
After it was exposed that his girlfriend had never died — nor even existed in the first place — the question was simple: Did Te’o pull a fleece over the sporting world in order to gain publicity?
Now, according to ESPN’s Shelley Smith, the answer to that question looks like a resounding ‘no’, but nothing is quite clear. Roniah Tuiasosopo, a friend of Te’o's from his days as a high school football star in Hawaii, apparently made up Lennay Kekua, the girl Te’o reportedly fell in love with over the internet.
And it was not the first time he did so. Apparently, Tuiasosopo had used the same photos before, on other family members and friends, in order to scam them out of whatever pride or money he may have been looking for.
Te’o has yet to make himself available regarding whether or not he was in on it with Tuiasosopo. However, as of writing, Smith has acquired information that provides the now disgraced and embarrassed star with a bit of the benefit of the doubt, and that is all that can be asked for until he does call a press conference.