As one may have guessed, the story of Manti Te’o’s fake dead girlfriend is not even close to having run its course. In fact, despite Deadspin’s best efforts to chronicle absolutely everything from beginning to end, there are so many tentacles and tangents to this story that we may not ever fully know what happened.
For those as yet unfamiliar, it had originally been thought that superstar Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was forced to deal with the deaths of his grandmother and his girlfriend a mere six hours apart. Te’o took a deep breath, headed back to practice, and that Saturday collected 12 tackles in an upset win over Michigan State. The legacy of a man who would finish with more than 100 tackles in three straight years was cemented, and it would only grow from there.
His grandmother did indeed, and unfortunately, pass away at the age of 72. However, the Deadspin report states that not only did his girlfriend not die, but she actually may have never existed in the first place.
In yet another unforeseen twist in a story full of them, enter stage right, Reagan Maui’a, fullback for the Arizona Cardinals.
According to NESN and ESPN, Maui’a met Lenney Kekua, Te’o’s purportedly fake girlfriend, while both were living in American Samoa.
“This was before her and Manti,” Maui’a told ESPN. “I don’t think Manti was even in the picture, but she and I became good friends. We would talk off and on, just checking up on each other kind of thing. I am close to her family. When she was going through the loss of her father, I was — I offered a comforting shoulder and just someone to bounce her emotions off. That was just from meeting her in Samoa.”
The tragic story of the dual deaths of Te’o’s loved ones was one of several reasons why Te’o was up for the Heisman — not to mention several other awards along the way.
Maui’a says that, at the very least, his girlfriend existed. Whether or not Te’o actually dated her, however, is another story altogether.