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January 31, 2013

Tuiasosopo breaks silence

Part one of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo’s interview with Dr. Phil McGraw ended with doubt.

That summed up the beginning and middle of the hour-long segment as well.

In breaking his silence over the Lennay Kekua hoax that ensnared Manti Te’o and captured national attention after Deadspin.com broke the story on Dec. 16, Tuiasosopo struggled to give credibility to why he concocted the elaborate prank or even if he was the only player involved.

The interview’s first segment concluded with McGraw challenging Tuiasosopo to recreate the voice of Lennay Kekua, which he claimed to have used on hundreds of calls to the former Notre Dame linebacker. Tuiasosopo refused to do it on camera after McGraw said voice analysts estimated a minute likelihood the voices of Tuiasosopo and Kekua would match.

“I gave them that voice mail,” McGraw said. “And I gave them your voice. And I had them do a highly scientific spectra analysis of our voice and score them both. … They looked at everything from voice intonation to tone qualities."

“They said the chance that you are the person on that voice mail is like one in 10 million. That it is not you. Not even possible.”

McGraw advertised Friday’s second segment as featuring Tuiasosopo doing the Kekua voice behind a privacy screen.

During the bizarre interview, which followed Te’o talking to ESPN and Katie Couric, Tuiasosopo confirmed accounts from Notre Dame and Te’o that the linebacker was not involved in the scam.

“Truthfully, honestly, he had no involvement,” Tuiasosopo said. “He did not know anything.”

Tuiasosopo said he had romantic feelings for Te’o.

“I had pretty much had this escape of Lennay from everything else and this was where my heart had pretty much invested not just time but all of my energy went into this,” Tuiasosopo said. “As twisted and as confusing as it may be, yeah. I cared for this person.”

“I did all that I could to help (Te’o) become a better person even though I wasn’t getting nothing out of it. Of course it’s very shameful and it’s very painful to talk about. Even now it’s hard to talk about. The truth of it is, that happened, I grew feelings, I grew emotions that sooner or later I couldn’t control any more.”

Tuiasosopo also supported Te’o’s claim that he’s not gay, claiming the linebacker and Kekua actually broke up in part because Te’o was on Skype with other girls around the time of his grandmother’s death. Tuiasosopo faked Kekua’s death from cancer within the same day.

Tuiasosopo claimed he ended the relationship because he knew Te’o had support, although he reached out a few days later playing the role of Kekua’s brother. He also created a fake sister for Kekua that became involved later in the process.

Tuiasosopo provided documentation that he met Te’o during the USC game weekend, at which point he said he wanted to tell Te’o the truth. Tuiasosopo said he reintroduced Kekua to Te’o in December and then revealed himself in January when the story broke.

“Honestly, if you look at this situation and you look at everything I went through I would say yeah, I am gay. But honestly I’m so confused. I’m so lost,” Tuiasosopo said. “I’m just finding me in this whole experience. All these problems are introducing me to myself through everything.

“It takes a lot of courage to stand and say that. To recover from homosexuality … coming back to your real life. I’m going to do all that I can to live right.”

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