Jan. 18, 2013 at 2:09 PM ET
The man who has emerged as a central figure in the Manti Te'o hoax auditioned for "The Voice," TODAY.com can confirm.
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, reportedly a friend of Te'o's, tried out to be a contestant on the singing competition show, which is broadcast on NBC.
Deadspin, which broke the news about the truth behind the inspirational story that was being told about the Notre Dame footballer, identified Tuiasosopo as a "high-school quarterback turned religious musician." Tuiasosopo's music career is not well established, but he's posted a number of songs that feature singing and keyboard playing on YouTube. "Saved Again," below, is one of them; Tuiasosopo calls it "an original."
On many of the YouTube postings, Tuiasosopo urges people to follow him at the Twitter account @iworship, which is also the account he was using when Te'o and Tuiasosopo communicated via the social network. However, the account has since been deactivated and reclaimed. Although the profile summary uses the name "Ronaiah," it's not clear who owns it now.
According to Deadspin, Tuiasosopo is the alleged mastermind behind Te'o's fabricated online girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, who supposedly died after battling cancer.
Te'o has maintained that he was the victim of an elaborate hoax.
"This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her," he said in a statement released to the press. "To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating."
Tuiasosopo has not commented on the situation. However, Alema Te'o, Manti's great uncle, did not mince words when talking about Tuiasosopo's connection to Manti and the hoax during a radio interview on Thursday.
"Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is a liar, he concocted the whole thing, he misrepresented whatever program that he was trying to get across to Manti, and shoot, he lied every step of the way. I don’t feel it’s beyond him to hire somebody or bring somebody in to play the role of Lennay to get Manti to buy into this deal."
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