LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Manti Te’o, the Notre Dame linebacker embroiled in a controversy involving a hoax he says he had no part in, has broken his silence.
Te’o had done a series of interviews the past year discussing a girlfriend — named Lannay Kekua — who died tragically from leukemia. Since the news broke that Kekua never existed Te’o has been silent.
Friday, Te’o spoke to ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap, off-camera, for more than two-and-a-half hours.
On a video appearing on ESPN.com, Schaap discussed the interview.
Schaap says Te’o “answered every question I had. He went back to the beginning. He explained himself. He answered as fully as I think he could.”
Schaap said Te’o admitted to making “a couple of mistakes” along the way — including lying to his father.
“That goes back to what I did with my dad; I knew that — I even knew that it was crazy that I was with somebody that I didn’t meet, and that alone people find out that this girl who died I was so invested in, and I didn’t meet her as well. So I kind of tailored my stories to have people think that, yeah, he met her before she passed away,” Te’o said in the interview.
He insisted he was not involved in the hoax. When Schaap asked if he was ever involved in the hoax, he said, “No, never.”
Te’o explained that in several interviews he did intimate that he met Kekua because he realized to many people his being in love with a woman he never met would sound strange.
The NFL hopeful said he had a “relationship” with the woman that lasted three years.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a long-time Te’o friend, is accused of setting up the elaborate hoax — including creating a Twitter account for Kekua.
“My cousins and I are the one who are behind this whole shenanigans that are going on with Manti. Dating online, calling, emailing, impersonating a girl’s voice,” a friend of Tuiasosopo told ESPN in a phone call.
Te’o, who’s currently in Florida, said now that he’s spoken out he’s hoping things will settle down so he can focus on the NFL draft coming up in April.