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Associated Press
In this Jan. 24 photo provided by CBS Television Distribution/Peteski Productions, talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw interviews Ronaiah Tuiasosopo during taping for the "Dr. Phil Show" in Los Angeles. The program is scheduled to air today and Friday.

Tuiasosopo, in love, made up Te'o girlfriend

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 who 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.

Tuisasosopo said he decided to confess to Te’o earlier this month as the hoax was unraveling because he felt he could not go any further with his own life until the truth was out.

“You’ve heard of recovering drug addicts? It takes a lot of courage to stand and say that,” he said “To recover from homosexuality and this type of thing. Not only that, coming back to your real life, as hard as a task as that is I’m going to do all that I can to live right.”

McGraw said that statement bothered him.

“I hope it’s a pressure you don’t put on yourself,” he said.

Tuiasosopo said he killed the Kekua character on the day in September Te’o learned his grandmother died, following an argument with Te’o. The football star had told Kekua he didn’t need her, Tuiasosopo said.

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