Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was apparently fooled by his male hoaxer’s “falsetto voice” in voicemails he believed were from online “girlfriend” Lennay Kekua.
“Kekua” never existed, and Te’o's inspiring story of playing through his grief after she “died” was revealed last week to be a hoax. An acquaintance of Te’o's, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, was apparently behind Kekua’s online persona, and kept the charade going in part by adopting a high-pitched voice and speaking with and leaving messages for the football player.
Te’o “thought it was a female he was talking with” in their all-night phone calls, Tuiasosopo attorney Milton Grimes told the Daily News. “It was Ronaiah as Lennay.”
Te’o shared some of the messages with Katie Couric, whom he sat down with in his first on-camera interview since the hoax was uncovered. In one, “Kekua” said she was preparing for her first chemotherapy session.
“Hi I’m just letting you know I got here and I’m getting ready for my first session and um, just want to call you to keep you posted. I miss you, I love you. Bye,” the message says.
In another, “Kekua” accuses Te’o of having someone else in his room.
“I don’t know who answered your phone and I don’t care. I swear on my life I’m trying…you made it clear what you want…take care,” the message says.”
Hear the remaining voice message at katiecouric.com.
For comparison, here’s the real Tuiasosopo in a video introducing one of his songs (via Gawker):