Manti Te’o’s Uncle Says Ronaiah Tuiasosopo Was Trying To Raise Money For Leukemia Foundation

Rucuss staffJanuary 19, 2013

Former Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o hasn’t revealed anymore details about the alleged ‘hoax’ surrounding his fake girlfriend Lennay Kekua.

But that hasn’t stopped his family members from coming forward and speaking on his behalf. His great uncle Alema Te’o said he knew something was strange about the entire situation from the beginning.

During an interview with 1280 The Zone in Salt Lake City, Utah, Alema described Ronaiah Tuiasosopo as a “shady character” who was trying to attach himself to Manti for either financial gain, publicity or both. Tuiasosopo is allegedly the culprit who created Kekua.

Alema, who runs a football camp in American Samoa, claims he met Tuiasosopo in a hotel lobby in Los Angeles and he instantly felt that there was something off about him. Alema said Tuiasosopo had a 9-year-old girl named Pookah with him, who he claimed was the cousin of Kekua at the time. Manti spoke to Pookah on the phone before while Kekua was still alive but was supposedly too sick to talk.

During their meeting, Alema said Tuiasosopo stood over Pookah with his hands on her shoulders, almost controlling what she said. He explained that it later turned out that Pookah was Ronaiah’s younger sister and he was using her as a pawn in his elaborate scheme. Tuiasosopo wanted to 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 told “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.”

Alema claims Tuiasosopo, who also auditioned for The Voice, was trying to raise money for a friend of Kekua who also had leukemia and went to Stanford. He reportedly told Alema that it was a “dying wish” of Kekua’s for the friend to be able to finish school.

Alema had a conversation with Manti’s father Brian Te’o and some other family members after Thanksgiving and expressed his concern over Tuiasosopo.


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