A Netflix documentary has been released on the unusual catfishing scandal that included Manti Te’o, a star linebacker for Notre Dame in his final year, ten years ago.
Te’o, a current unsigned free agent for the NFL, spoke on CBS Mornings about the film “Untold: the Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist.”
I needed to expose it, he continued, “for me to kind of heal from this.” “At this time, I forced myself to be open and have those difficult conversations whenever somebody inquired about it or had questions about it. I started to sense the strength that I would receive from talking about it.”
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As the cornerstone of a strong defensive unit that helped the Fighting Irish advance to the BCS national title game in 2012, Te’o was a Heisman finalist and Butkus Award winner.
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He talked about the loss of his girlfriend, Stanford student Lennay Kekua, who had fallen away from leukemia around the time Te’o’s grandmother had died, in interviews at the time. He oddly claimed that he had only chatted with Kekua digitally and had never met her in person. She turned out to be a complete fabrication.
The identity for Kekua was established by Ronaiah “Naya” Tuiasosopo, who also communicated with Te’o. Following the conclusion of Notre Dame’s season, it was revealed that Te’o was the target of an elaborate catfishing plot and Kekau was not real. Tuiasosopo also makes an appearance in the film.
Te’o admitted that after learning of the scam, “I didn’t know what to believe.” What are you going to do with that knowledge? Do you tell someone you just learned they are alive by calling them?
Te’o added that another reason he is sharing his experience at this time is to ensure that everyone is aware that he did, in fact, lose someone during that trying time in his life.
It almost seems as like this narrative overshadows my grandma, therefore I want to shed more light on her,” he said. If there is anything I’d like to accomplish, it would be to show my grandma the respect she has deserved for the past ten years.
Originally published on USA TODAY, this article says: The catfishing fraud is discussed by Manti Te’o in a Netflix documentary: “I had to admit it”
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