Matt Cashore/USA Today Sports
NEW YORK -- Manti Te'o told Katie Couric the feelings he had for what turned out to be a fake, online girlfriend were real and reiterated he had nothing to do with the hoax.
The All-American linebacker said he was truly sorrowful and pained after finding out the woman he knew as Lennay Kekua died in September.
Te'o's once-heartwarming tale of inspired play after the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day in September was exposed as a bizarre hoax on Jan. 16.
Deadspin.com broke the news that the woman Te'o had claimed to be in love with did not exist.
The person Manti Te'o says was pretending to be his online girlfriend told the Notre Dame linebacker "I love you" in voicemails that were played during his interview with Katie Couric.
Taped earlier this week and broadcast Thursday, the hour-long talk show featured three voicemails that Te'o claims were left for him last year.
He provided the messages to Couric and said they were from the person he believed to be Lennay Kekua, a woman he had fallen for but never met face-to-face.
After the first message was played, Te'o said: "It sounds like a girl, doesn't it?" "It does," Couric responded. The interview was the first done on-camera by the All-American since his once-heartwarming tale of inspired play after the deaths of his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day in September was exposed as a bizarre hoax on Jan. 16.
Te'o, who led Notre Dame to a spot in the national championship, has admitted that when his girlfriend's "death" became a story, he misled reporters into thinking he had met her in the flesh.
The star player recounted the whole, strange episode in an interview with Couric that was broadcast Thursday.