Cardinals Player Says He Met Manti Te'o's Fake Dead Girlfriend

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This is a confusing story; there's no doubt about it. But if there's one thing everyone can agree on—from our original story, to the Notre Dame statement, to Manti Te'o's own statement, it's that Lennay Kekua was a hoax. She didn't exist.


Cardinals fullback Reagan Maui'a says he met her.

Buried at the bottom of this story, a reporter approaches Maui'a—who played in Hawaii and who, like Te'o, is of Samoan descent—and asks him about Kekua.

"This was before her and Manti," Maui'a said Wednesday evening. "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."

Maui'a said Tuiasosopo — whom Maui'a believes is Kekua's cousin — introduced the two. After the initial meeting, Maui'a said he met her at an "after-party" for all of the athletes involved in the camp.

"She was tall," he said. "Volleyball-type of physique. She was athletic, tall, beautiful. Long hair. Polynesian. She looked like a model ... "


At one point the reporter says that Kekua is a hoax, to which Maui'a replied "No, she is real." Meaning an ESPN reporter and an NFL player were arguing about a woman's existence, which is kind of heavy.

One source close to Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man suspected of being behind the hoax, says he created Lennay Kekua as far back as 2008 and Te'o "wasn't the first person to have an online 'relationship' with her." So it's entirely possible that Tuiasosopo, from a big Hawaii football family, found marks in other local football products—like Reagan Maui'a. But his story of meeting "Kekua" would mean there was an actual, physical woman involved at one point. Every answer leads to twice as many questions.