Manti Te’o was interviewed by ESPN’s Heather Cox after Notre Dame’s 20-3 victory over Michigan State on Sept. 15.
It’s believed to be the first time that Te’o, an All-American linebacker for the Irish who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting, speaks about Lennay Kekua, who was supposedly a Stanford student he met online.
Kekua, it turns out, was not really a person. Someone created an online profile under that name and made contact with several people, eventually getting the attention of Te’o, who believed she had died of leukemia on Sept. 11.
Te’o’s grandmother also died that week, making the dual tragedies a driving force to his and Notre Dame’s unbeaten season and appearance in the BCS national championship game, which Alabama eventually won in a rout.
“They were with me. So, I couldn’t do it without them,” said Te’o of his girlfriend and grandmother during the interview.
“I couldn’t do it without the support of my family and my girlfriend’s family. I’m so grateful for all the love and support that all the fans, both Michigan State and Notre Dame, and fans around the world for supporting me and my family and my girlfriend’s family. I miss them. I miss them. But I know that I’ll see them again one day.”