Steve Rannazzisi has seen quite a bit of success over the last decade with his role on The League as well as several comedy gigs across major television networks. More often than not, he's attributed such achievements to the decisions he made following a narrow escape from the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Throughout his rise to fame and up until just a few years ago, the 37-year-old actor told and re-told several publications that he was working at the Merrill Lynch offices on the 54th floor of the south tower when he saw the first plane strike the north tower.
"I was there and then the first tower got hit and we were like jostled all over the place," he explained during a podcast with Marc Maron in 2009.
He then described himself fleeing to the street right before the second plane crashed into the south tower—a moment he said caused him to reevaluate his life, pick up and move to California with his girlfriend (now wife), Tracy Rannazzisi.
However, just days following the 14th anniversary of the tragic events, evidence that challenged the details of his account forced him to finally come clean in admitting he lied about the entire story.
"As a young man, I made a mistake that I deeply regret and for which apologies may still not be enough," he writes on his Twitter account. "After I moved with my wife to Los Angeles from New York City in 2001 shortly after 9/11, I told people that I was in one of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. It wasn't true. I was in Manhattan but working in a building in midtown and I was not at the Trade Center on that day."
In fact, Rannazzisi had been working in Midtown that day, and not for Merrill Lynch, which has no record of his employment and didn't even have offices in either tower.
"I don't know why I said this. This was inexcusable," he continues. "I am truly, truly sorry. For many years, more than anything, I have wished that, with silence, I could somehow erase a story told by an immature young man. It only made me more ashamed. How could I tell my children to be honest when I hadn't come clean about this?"
And thus, he concludes, "It is to the victims of 9/11 and to the people that love them—and the people that love me—that I ask for forgiveness. It was profoundly disrespectful to those who perished and those who lost loved ones. The stupidity and guilt I have felt for many years has not abated. It was an early taste of having a public persona, and I made a terrible mistake."
Meanwhile, fellow comedian Pete Davidson—who lost his father on 9/11—couldn't help but make fun of Rannazzisi before quickly hopping to his defense.
"It's ok @SteveRannazzisi people make mistakes," he wrote on Twitter. "Can't wait to meet my dad for lunch later." His sarcasm obviously flew right over Rannazzisi's head, who responded and subsequently deleted, "Thank you pete. i really appreciate it."
Davidson acknowledged that the actor missed the point before coming to his defense.
"All kidding aside this @SteveRannazzisi story sucks because he's actually a funny comic and I love The League," Davidson tweeted. "It's f--ked up. Take it easy on @SteveRannazzisi... He reached out to me and is truly sorry. We all sometimes lie and exaggerate a story to seem cooler... Unfortunately this is a very touchy topic n very near n dear 2 peoples hearts. Its years later but he apologized n owned up 2 it like a man."