The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

January 17, 2013

Hawaii hometown backs Te'o after girlfriend hoax

LAIE, Hawaii — People in the small Hawaii hometown of Manti Te’o are offering support for the Notre Dame linebacker, after the story of his girlfriend and her death from leukemia were revealed as a hoax.

No one answered the door Wednesday evening and no one appeared to be inside the modest, single-story wood home of Te’o’s parents, Brian and Ottilia Te’o, in the small coastal town of Laie on Oahu’s northern shore where Manti Te’o, an All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist, was born.

But members of the mostly Mormon community said they were dumbfounded, and didn’t believe he would have knowingly perpetrated such a story. The town of about 6,000 people, roughly an hour’s drive from Honolulu, is home to a small Hawaii satellite campus of Brigham Young University.

Lokelani Kaiahua, 42, said Te’o’s parents were her classmates, and she knew them to have strong family values they instilled in their children.

“I just don’t see something like that being made up from him or having any part of that because they’re not those kind of people,” she said while sitting and talking with friends a few doors down from the Te’o family home. “Everybody’s kind of like ‘what is going on?”’

According to media accounts that surrounded Te’o this season, his purported girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died of leukemia in September. But on Wednesday, the website Deadspin.com posted a lengthy story saying there was no evidence that she ever existed.

Notre Dame officials then confirmed the hoax but were insistent that Te’o was only the victim.

Te’o is a hero and role model to many children in Laie and nearby small towns like Hauula, Kaaawa and Kahuku along the two-lane highway snaking through Oahu’s northeastern coast.

Students at Hauula Elementary often wear Notre Dame jerseys with his number “5” on them. Te’o has returned to the area to talk to students about the importance of staying in school, said school administrator at a nearby high school, Makala Paakaula, 38.

“He always keeps giving back to his community,” Paakaula said.

Te’o should be lauded for uniting Notre Dame during his senior year when he could have left for the NFL, she said.

“It’s amazing how he brought together the whole school to become one ohana, one family, where they all belonged, where they all had a purpose,” Paakaula said.

Many people expressed anger toward whoever was behind the entire affair.

“If he got hoaxed, that’s not his fault – shame on them,” Paakaula said, “because he has a very trusting, open heart.”

 

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • DePrimio, Mary Grace Winner of scholarship contest to represent Pa.

    Seventeen high school seniors, including three from this region, are competing to be named Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania 2015.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Restaurant makes pitch for local noise law

    A Scalp Avenue wing chain owner trying to entice Richland Township officials to take over his commercial neighborhood’s noise enforcement made his pitch Monday, saying it would allow him to add outdoor events with rock bands and oldies DJs on summer nights.

    July 28, 2014

  • Tom Grenell Arena, promoter nearing new deal

    A new contract is almost in place that will retain SMG as the Cambria County War Memorial Arena’s promoter for at least five years and create a schedule for the county to pay down more than $400,000 in debt.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • PennDOT pushes ‘Yellow Dot’ vehicle stickers

    It’s the car sticker that could save your life.
    PennDOT’s “Yellow Dot” program has been around for several years, said Daniel Zakraysek, coordinator of the Cambria Allegheny Regional Highway Safety Network.

    July 28, 2014

  • Remembering elephant’s rampage

    The circus elephant paced the landing outside the Jaffa Mosque in Altoona.
    Police formed an uneasy line around the perimeter of the venue’s lawn, rifles at the ready.
    It was a cloudy, cold day in April 1993, and Tyke the elephant had just run around the circus ring, slapped a baboon and burst through a building’s front door, tearing off part of the wall above the door.

    July 28, 2014

  • 3rd Kennywood coaster earns title

    The group American Coaster Enthusiasts has named the Thunderbolt a Coaster Landmark, the third roller coaster to be so recognized at the Kennywood amusement park near Pittsburgh.

    July 28, 2014

  • Candidates rush to counter flurry of TV attack ads

    A flurry of new TV ads has debuted in Pennsylvania’s campaign for governor, sending candidates scrambling to counter the attacks as the spending and rhetoric ratchet up.

    July 28, 2014

  • State briefs 7/29/2014

    July 28, 2014

  • Local briefs 7/29/2014

    July 28, 2014

  • wolfe.jpg Three region hospitals joining forces through oversight board

    Three area hospitals announced the formation of a joint oversight board to control costs, strengthen buying influence and improve patient outcomes.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads