Laie backs Te'o after girlfriend hoax

Published On: Jan 30 2013 11:14:40 AM HST   Updated On: Jan 17 2013 01:46:29 PM HST
LAIE, Hawaii -

People in the small Hawaii hometown of Manti Te'o are offering support for the Notre Dame linebacker after the story of his girlfriend and her death from Leukemia were revealed as a hoax.

No one answered the door Wednesday evening at Te'o's parents' home in the small coastal town of Laie on Oahu's northern shore where Te'o was born.

But members of the mostly Mormon community said they were dumbfounded, and didn't believe he would have knowingly perpetrated such a story.

Neighbor Katherine Lindsay, a retiree sitting in front of her home talking with friends, says she knows how people are raised in the community, and she could not go along with the idea that Te'o could be involved in the deception.

Notre Dame officials confirmed that the story was a hoax, but insist Te'o was the victim.

Former University of Hawaii running back Reagan Mauia, now with the Arizona Cardinals, told ESPN that he actually met Lennay Kekua, which was the name of Te'o's girlfriend, when he and other NFL players did charity work in American Samoa in June 2011.

"This was before her and Manti," Mauia said. "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."

According to, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was the mastermind behind the hoax.

Mauia says he believes Tuiasosopo is Kekua's cousin and introduced him to Kekua.

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

Tuiasosopo is a cousin of NFL quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, according to ESPN.

Mauia says he believes Kekua's mother is operating her Twitter account, although he never met her mother.

When Mauia was told by a reporter that Kekua apparently might not have existed, he responded, "No, she is real."


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