Voice of Te'o prankster? Couric plays voicemails
NEW YORK (AP) The person Manti Te'o says was pretending to be his online girlfriend told the Notre Dame linebacker "I love you" in voicemails that were played during his interview with Katie Couric.
Taped earlier this week and broadcast Thursday, the hour-long talk show featured three voicemails that Te'o claims were left for him last year. Te'o said they were from the person he believed to be Lennay Kekua, a woman he had fallen for online but never met face-to-face.
After the first message was played, Te'o said: "It sounds like a girl, doesn't it?"
"It does," Couric responded.
The interview was the All-American's first on camera since his tale of inspired play after the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day in September unraveled as a bizarre hoax in an expose by Deadspin.com on Jan. 16.
Te'o's parents appeared with him for part of the interview and backed up his claim that he wasn't involved in the fabrication, saying they, too, had spoken on the phone with a person they believed to be Kekua.
Couric addressed speculation that the tale was concocted by Te'o as a way to cover up his sexual orientation. Asked if he were gay, Te'o said "no" with a laugh. "Far from it. Faaaar from that."
He also said he was "scared" and "didn't know what to do" after receiving a call on Dec. 6 - two days before the Heisman Trophy presentation - from a person who claimed to be his "dead" girlfriend.
The first voicemail, he said, was from what was supposed to be Kekua's first day of chemotherapy for leukemia.
"Hi, I am just letting you know I got here and I'm getting ready for my first session and, um, just want to call you to keep you posted. I miss you. I love you. Bye," the person said.
In the second voicemail, the person was apparently upset by someone else answering Te'o's phone.
The third voicemail was left on Sept. 11, according to Te'o, the day he believed Kekua was released from the hospital and the day before she "died."
"Hey babe, I'm just calling to say goodnight," the person on the voicemail said. "I love you. I know that you're probably doing homework or you're with the boys. ... But I just wanted to say I love you and goodnight and I'll be ok tonight. I'll do my best. Um, yeah, so get your rest and I'll talk to you tomorrow. I love you so much, hon. Sweet dreams."
Couric suggested the person who left those messages might have been Ronaiah Tuisasosopo, a 22-year-old man from California, who Te'o said has apologized to him for pulling the hoax.
"Do you think that could have been a man on the other end of the phone?" she asked.
"Well, it didn't sound like a man," Te'o said. "It sounded like a woman. If he somehow made that voice, that's incredible. That's an incredible talent to do that. Especially every single day."
Tuiasosopo has not spoken publicly since news of the hoax broke. The Associated Press has learned that a home in California where Te'o sent flowers to the Kekua family was once a residence of Tuiasosopo and has been in his family for decades.
Also on Thursday, the woman whose pictures were used in fake online accounts for Kekua said Tuiasosopo confessed to her in a 45-minute phone conversation as the scheme unraveled.
Diane O'Meara spoke with The Associated Press in a telephone interview. She said Tuiasosopo told her he'd been "stalking" her Facebook profile for five years and stealing photos.
O'Meara's attorney, Jim Artiano, said they had not decided on whether to take any legal action.
The 23-year-old O'Meara, of Long Beach, Calif., said she knew Tuiasosopo from high school and he contacted her through Facebook on Dec. 16. She said that, over the next three weeks, Tuiasosopo got in touch with her several times, attempting to get photos and video of O'Meara. She said he made up a story about wanting them to help cheer up a cousin who was injured in a car crash.
O'Meara learned her identity had been stolen on Jan. 13 when she was contacted by Deadspin.com.
The next day she got in touch with Tuiasosopo.
"When I contacted Ronaiah I got a very bizarre vibe from him, he became very nervous, he wasn't asking the questions I expected. He was asking `Who contacted you? What did they say?'" O'Meara said.
Later that day, he confessed, O'Meara said. She said she asked Tuiasosopo why he didn't simply stop the hoax.
"He told me he wanted to end the relationship," O'Meara said. "He said he wanted to stop the relationship between Lennay and Manti, but Manti didn't want Lennay to break up with him ... He said he tried to stop the game many times."
When news of the hoax broke a few days later, O'Meara said she received a text from Tuiasosopo asking her to call him as soon as possible. O'Meara said she didn't respond.
Associated Press writer Tami Abdollah contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
Updated January 24, 2013
Pete joined the show to discuss Tebow's signing with the Patriots. He said that Tim Tebow cant play and that he has trouble learning NFL playbooks.
On this episode of the It Is What It Is Cast, Chris Price talks with the Boston Herald's Jeff P Howe about the Patriots offseason, Rob Gronkowski's back surgery, Danny Amendola replacing Wes Welker, and how this seasons team will stack up against last seasons.
In the latest edition of the It Is What It Is Cast, Chris Price talks with Will Carroll. Injury expert and lead writer for Sports Medicine, Bleacher Report. They talk about the injury to Rob Gronkowski and what his back surgery could mean for his season.
Jeff joined the show to discuss the rumors of Doc heading to the Clippers. Jeff said that he will not discuss his future but that his brother would be a great candidate anywhere.
Stephen A. joined the show to discuss the status of trade negotiations between the Clippers and the Celtics. Stephen said that it is a 50-50 proposition that Doc ends up in Los Angeles.
Grande and Max take more calls on the Celtics and discuss what lies ahead for Doc Rivers with Steve Bulpett.
John Farrell postgame press conference
Joe & Dave talked to the Sox outfielder, who pounded the ball out of the park to win the second game of the doubleheader against the Rays.
John Farrell postgame press conference
The Bruins have looked quite good taking a 2-1 lead on the Blackhawks, but Shawn Thornton says the team is not getting ahead of itself. Thornton also talks about what makes Patrice Bergeron such a great player and teammate. He also squeezes in a few shots at his friend Keegan Bradley.
Pierre McGuire joins Mut and Merloni after a Bruins win and discusses the play of Rask and the defense, the Hossa injury, and Jagr.
Tony Amonte calls out Marian Hossa for missing Game 3 and recaps the Bruins win.
Keegan Bradley hopped on the set in Connecticut with D&C to talk some golf, but seeing as how he's a big Boston sports fan, the interview covered a lot of ground. You can hear Keegan talk about the Bruins' Cup chances, the Doc Rivers deal that almost was, and Shawn Thornton's lacking golf game.
Legal expert Michael McCann joined D&C to take on the topic of the day: Just what exactly is happening with Aaron Hernandez? McCann addressed Hernandez' lack of cooperation in the investigation so far, and how that may play out as the case moves along.
Pierre McGuire joins Mut and Merloni after a Bruins win and discusses the play of Rask and the defense, the Hossa injury and Jagr.
Tony Amonte calls out Marian Hossa for missing Game 3 and recaps the Bruins' win.
Andy Brickley joins Mut and Merloni in studio to take phone calls from the listeners and preview Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Salk and Holley break down a big Bruins win over the Blackhawks in Game 3 at the Garden.
We talk all Bruins, all the time with the man himself, as Jack Edwards from NESN gets us ready for Game 3 and beyond.
Four guys, four topics we haven't yet touched upon today. T.O. visits Ocho, Bob Costas has enough smarm for us all, stupid beauty pageant contestants and more.
Mikey gets a surprise call from Red Sox legend Bernie Carbo. They talk about old-time baseball and Bernie's new book.
Mikey talks with Tom and Luke about their new movie, "Plimpton!" and finds out what it was like to try to encapsulate everything George Plimpton accomplished during his life.
Today on the Daily Planet, the Red Sox and Yankees face off in the Bronx, Claude Julien doesn't want players wasting energy, and Dwight Howard and free agency.
Both Xander Bogaerts and Anthony Ranaudo punctuated their strong 2013 seasons with head-turning events on June 13. On that day, Bogaerts, the Red Sox' top prospect, was promoted from Double-A Portland Pawtucket, with the 20-year-old becoming one of the youngest position players in the affiliate's history. On that same day, right-hander Anthony Ranaudo punched out 13 batters for Double-A Portland, the most strikeouts by a Red Sox minor leaguer since Jon Lester in 2005. They joined Minor Details to discuss both those accomplishments and their seasons to date.More from this show
Linda explains how the shootout transpired in Watertown during the early morning hours. She saw the first suspect mortally wounded and police beginning the manhunt for the second suspect.More from this show