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Manti Te’o Reveals Who Inspired Him to Open Up About Catfishing

Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o has spoken out more about his infamous catfishing scandal that is the subject of a Netflix documentary titled UNTOLD: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist.

The 31-year-old joined CBS Mornings this week and admitted how he was inspired to open up about his unique situation publicly. Back in 2017, the linebacker went to a Jay-Z concert with his Saints teammates. At the concert, the rapper told the audience “you cannot heal what you don’t reveal.” Those words inspired Te’o to begin revealing his truth.

So, when he was approached by director Tony Vainuku in 2020 about the documentary series, Te’o saw the show as a passage to his healing.

At the height of his career during his senior campaign, the linebacker announced in Sept. 2012 that his grandmother and girlfriend “Lennay Kekua” died within hours of each other. The story inspired the country and the Fighting Irish as he helped lead the team to a BCS national championship game appearance that season.

But shortly after the season ended, an investigation by Deadspin revealed that Te’o’s girlfriend did not exist. The pictures shared by the Notre Dame star were images of a 22-year-old woman who claimed to have never met Te’o. The report also detailed how the relationship was solely over Twitter and the two had never met in person.

The catfishers were later revealed as Naya Tuiasosopo and two other individuals. The story of what occurred will be detailed in the Netflix documentary series, which premiered Tuesday.

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