Manti Te’o still has yet to come out and speak about the incident involving his fake girlfriend Lennay Kekua, but his great uncle Alema Te’o tried to shed some light on the situation on Thursday. During an interview with 1280 The Zone in Salt Lake City, Alema described Ronaiah Tuiasosopo as a “shady character” who was trying to attach himself to Manti for either financial gain, publicity or both.
Alema says he first met Tuiasosopo in a hotel lobby in Los Angeles and instantly felt that there was something off about him. Alema Te’o runs a football camp in American Samoa, and he says Tuiasosopo was taking credit for many of the things that Alema had done with the program.
Alema said Tuiasosopo had a 9-year-old girl named Pookah with him at the time. He said Manti was “mesmerized” with Pookah, whom he had spoken to on the phone before and was allegedly the cousin of Lennay Kekua. In fact, Alema said Manti spoke to Pookah on the phone before while Kekua was still alive but was supposedly too sick to talk.
During their meeting, Alema says Tuiasosopo stood over Pookah with his hands on her shoulders, almost controlling what she was saying. He said it later turned out that Pookah was Ronaiah’s younger sister and that he was using her as a pawn in his elaborate scheme. A scheme, Alema says, that was put in place so that Tuiasosopo could gain notoriety for his leukemia research foundation.
“Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is a liar, he concocted the whole thing, he misrepresented whatever program that he was trying to get across to Manti, and shoot, he lied every step of the way,” Alema Te’o said, via CSNChicago.com. “I don’t feel it’s beyond him to hire somebody or bring somebody in to play the role of Lennay to get Manti to buy into this deal.”
According to Alema, Tuiasosopo claimed he was trying to raise money for a friend of Kekua’s — who also had leukemia and went to Stanford — so that she could put herself through college. He reportedly told Alema that is was a “dying wish” of Kekua’s for the friend to be able to finish school.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, Alema said he had a conversation with Brian Te’o (Manti’s father) and some other family members and expressed his concern over Tuiasosopo. He says he did not trust Ronaiah and criticized him for making up the news about Kekua’s death on the day of Te’o's grandmother’s death, which shifted the focus to Manti’s unfathomable grief and did not allow the family to pay its proper respects to the grandmother.
Again, we still need to hear from Manti. Whether he was in on the hoax or not, I think it’s pretty obvious that Tuiasosopo is a manipulative person who was at the center of the entire sick game. We also have reason to believe he has a history of lying for his own personal gain, so that isn’t exactly new information. And on and on it goes…
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