(AP/ABC7) - 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.
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.
Te'o's biggest regret was lying to his father about meeting the girlfriend and not speaking up when he found out she wasn't real. He said he was scared.
"Part of me was saying if you say that she's alive, what would everybody think?” he says. “What would you tell everyone that follow you and you inspire."