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Man at center of Te'o hoax says he was in love

Dr. Phil McGraw (L) interviews Ronaiah Tuiasosopo on the set of his show in this handout photo obtained by Reuters Jan. 30, 2013. In the interview airing Jan. 31 and Feb.1, Tuiasosopo, who has admitted to fabricating Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend in an elaborate hoax, told talk show host Phil McGraw he felt a deep romantic love for the football player, McGraw said. REUTERS

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 3:06 p.m.

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo fell in love with Manti Te'o and said all his energy went into pretending to be the woman the Notre Dame linebacker came to know as Lennay Kekua.

Tuiasosopo, the 22-year-old mastermind of the elaborate hoax that embarrassed Te'o and left him looking gullible, 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.

Tuiasosopo said Te'o knew nothing of the scam and doesn't believe he ever suspected Kekua was fake.

“He had no involvement,” Tuiasosopo said. “He did not know anything.”

Tuiasosopo said he felt Kekua was a part of him, and grew feelings and emotions for Te'o that he could not control.

“As twisted and confusing as it may be, yeah, I cared for this person,” he said, referring to Te'o.

Tuiasosopo 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.”

Tuiasosopo said he killed the Kekua character on the day Te'o learned his grandmother died, after an argument with the football star.

Te'o had told Kekua he didn't need her.

“It hurt me,” Tuiasosopo said. “It hit me like a brick wall. I was like, ‘Whoa, I've given so much into this.' And I realized right then in that moment, that I poured so much into Lennay, that I myself was getting nothing, and look what I was left with.”

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