- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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A California man said he created the hoax involving former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and a fake girlfriend because he was in love with the football player.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo spoke publicly for the first time in an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw for the "Dr. Phil Show," the first part of which aired Thursday.
The 22-year-old Tuiasosopo said he created the online persona of Lennay Kekua, a nonexistent woman whom Te'o said he fell for without ever meeting in person and later believed had died of leukemia.
Tuiasosopo said Te'o knew nothing of the hoax. "He had no involvement," Tuiasosopo said. "He did not know anything."
He also said the loyalty and support he gave Te'o was real.
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