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In his own words: Manti Te'o on girlfriend's death

By Steve Almasy, CNN
January 17, 2013 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
The sports world and the Internet are abuzz as Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o says <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/16/sport/manti-teo-controversy/index.html'>he was the victim of a "sick joke"</a> that resulted in the creation of an inspirational story that had him overcoming the death of an online girlfriend at the same time he lost his grandmother. Here, Te'o leaves the field after a 42-14 loss against Alabama in the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game on Monday, January 7, in Miami Gardens, Florida. See more photos of Te'o: The sports world and the Internet are abuzz as Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o says he was the victim of a "sick joke" that resulted in the creation of an inspirational story that had him overcoming the death of an online girlfriend at the same time he lost his grandmother. Here, Te'o leaves the field after a 42-14 loss against Alabama in the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game on Monday, January 7, in Miami Gardens, Florida. See more photos of Te'o:
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Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
Photos: Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
Notre Dame star Manti Te'o
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Manti T'eo spoke publicly of his girlfriend's death during the season
  • His play after the death of his grandmother and girlfriend inspired many

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(CNN) -- As the big game with No. 10 Michigan State approached, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o had a heavy heart after he learned his girlfriend had lost her fight with leukemia.

The college football nation embraced the plucky Fighting Irish star, who also lost a grandmother that same week. His ability to play through emotional pain inspired many.

But now the story is in question after an article on the Deadspin website Wednesday said the girlfriend never existed.

The Te'o family talked about her throughout the season, describing the pain he dealt with after he was told she had died.

Timeline: How the story unfolded

Deadspin shares how it broke Te'o story
Notre Dame: Manti Te'o victim of hoax
Notre Dame: Te'o caught in 'Catfish' scam
Report: Manti Te'o's girlfriend a hoax

Here are a selection of those quotes:

-- "It was hard. I lost a woman who I truly love, but I have my family around me and my football family. At the end of the day, families are forever and I will see them again someday. It is a great escape. I will be honest, throughout the game you are still thinking about it, but football allows me to be in a little realm, a little world that I know. I can honor them by the way I played. It was for them, for my girl and my grandma, and for all my loved ones who have passed on. They are all watching. It was a happy moment."

Te'o at the news conference after the Michigan State game on September 15.

-- "I really wanted to see her (in the hospital), but I knew that she made me promise, 'If anything happens to me, you'll stay over there and you'll play. You'll honor me through the way you play. I'd rather have you there. All she wanted was some white roses. White was her favorite color, so I sent her roses and sent her two picks (interceptions) along with that."

Te'o in the Irish Illustrated.com on October 3.

-- "That has to be the hardest thing that I've had to do so far; to be able to operate, and to be able to try to continue with my daily routine, but knowing that I just lost two women that I truly loved. That was the hardest thing. And the other hardest thing was my girlfriend's service was the day of the Michigan game. And I remember when I found out I knew when they were going to close the casket and all that stuff, and it was during the walk through. And I remember I asked Coach Diaco, 'Coach, what time is it?' And he said, 'It's 12:01.' And that would be 9, 9:01, California time and 9 is when they closed the casket for my girlfriend, so I had a moment then."

Te'o at a news conference on October 4.

-- "They started out as just friends. Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there. But within the last year, they became a couple. And we came to the realization that she could be our daughter-in-law. Sadly, it won't happen now."

Brian Te'o told the South Bend Tribune on October 13.

-- "I cried, I yelled. I never felt that way before. This is six hours after I just found out my grandma passed away and you take the love of my life. The last thing she said to me was, 'I love you.' And that was it."

Te'o to ESPN in October.

-- "There's nothing I can say to explain it unless somebody's been there before. Somebody told me once the hardest thing about goodbyes is when you wake up in the morning you have to say it again when you realize that they're not there. So every morning when I wake up and my girlfriend is not on the phone it reminds me that she's gone. That's the hardest part for me. I go through it every day."

Te'o in the Boston Globe on November 10.

-- "It was a roller coaster, a constant struggle just to find balance through the adversity that my family went through. It hit me a number of times. When adversity hits like it did, my life became very plain, very black and white. It was like trying to walk through mud. It was kind of like, 'Man, I know I can do this, but how long do I have to do this for?' And I would think of my grandfather (who died in January 2012). All the chemo he went through, how hard he fought. And he never complained. Never. He was always more worried about everyone else, about getting everyone through his illness. So when I lost my grandmother and Lennay, I thought of him. He was my strength.''

Te'o in the December 30 edition of the New York Post

Social media jump all over Te'o hoax story

Who's who on the Internet? Who knows

TV show 'Catfish' focuses on fake internet relationships

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Part of complete coverage on
Manti Te'o hoax
January 24, 2013 -- Updated 2025 GMT (0425 HKT)
Manti Te'o has again admitted to lying, marking at least the second time he has acknowledged knowingly spreading falsities in the saga of his fake dead girlfriend.
January 20, 2013 -- Updated 1647 GMT (0047 HKT)
The Notre Dame linebacker told ESPN that he wasn't part of the hoax involving a deceased girlfriend.
January 18, 2013 -- Updated 1628 GMT (0028 HKT)
This may be the strangest twist in a tale overflowing with strangeness. Manti Te'o's deceased girlfriend tweeted late Wednesday night.
January 18, 2013 -- Updated 1446 GMT (2246 HKT)
Te'o is now a meme -- posting pictures of yourself with your arm around an imaginary girlfriend. They call it "Te'oing."
January 18, 2013 -- Updated 1544 GMT (2344 HKT)
Manti Te'o's Twitter bio reads: "Life is a storm.. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes." The storm has arrived.
January 18, 2013 -- Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT)
Oh, the stories we storytellers tell. Like the story of brave Manti Te'o and his doomed girlfriend. We love a good story. We love spinning a good yarn.
January 18, 2013 -- Updated 1446 GMT (2246 HKT)
Was Manti Te'o a hapless victim or a duplicitous co-conspirator?
January 18, 2013 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
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January 17, 2013 -- Updated 1236 GMT (2036 HKT)
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January 17, 2013 -- Updated 1350 GMT (2150 HKT)
After word broke of a hoax about the death of star Manti Te'o's "girlfriend," it didn't take long for "Te'o" to become the top-trending term on Twitter.
January 17, 2013 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
As the big game with No. 10 Michigan State approached, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o had a heavy heart after he learned his girlfriend had lost her fight with leukemia.
January 17, 2013 -- Updated 1517 GMT (2317 HKT)
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January 17, 2013 -- Updated 0940 GMT (1740 HKT)
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick compared the alleged hoax about a "girlfriend" that ensnared linebacker Manti Te'o with the documentary "Catfish."
January 17, 2013 -- Updated 0422 GMT (1222 HKT)
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o said he was the victim of a "sick joke" that had him and legions of fans believing in a "girlfriend" who may never have existed.
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