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Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's inspirational story about playing in the weeks following his girlfriend's death and subsequent funeral in September turned out to be false after a Deadspin.com article revealed Te'o's girlfriend didn't exist.

In what has been described as an elaborate hoax, Te'o's girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, was an online persona created by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a friend of Te'o's and a pastor at a church in Palmdale, Calif.

STORY: Te'o's inspirational girlfriend story a hoax

MORE: 8 craziest things about Te'o hoax story

In a statement issued by CAA, which represents Te'o, the Notre Dame star called himself a "victim" of "someone's sick joke." The response statement read:

"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," Te'o said. "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.

"To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.

It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.

"I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been.

"In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was. Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft."

PHOTOS: MANTI TE'O'S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

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