Who is Manti Te'o? What happened to former NFL star involved in major catfish scandal

Former NFL linebacker catfished
Former NFL linebacker catfished

Manti Te'o was one of the most promising linebackers in the early 2010's. He began his collegiate career in 2009 at the University of Notre Dame. He played there for four years and became a consensus All-American. He took home eight national awards, cementing his case as one of the top college linebackers.

He was drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He stayed there through the 2016 season before moving over to New Orleans between 2017-2019. Following this, he played one season in Chicago before leaving the NFL.

The linebacker started 48 games in his career, which would be a surprise to anyone who saw him in college. He was a tremendous defender, but the scandal that broke out likely derailed a promising career.


He never made a Pro Bowl. In fact, he only recorded a little over 400 solo tackles across his career, so he didn't make the impact many thought he could.

The scandal that rocked the nation likely ruined his career.

Recapping the Manti Te'o catfishing scandal

New York Jets v New Orleans Saints
New York Jets v New Orleans Saints

It all went sideways when it was revealed that the girlfriend Te'o had been dating was fake. He was one of the most beloved athletes in the nation one day and a something of a laughing stock the next.

His "girlfriend" was Naya Tuiasosopo, who has since come out as a trans woman. She invented Lennay Kekua’s persona, who entered into a relationship with the linebacker. Ultimately, the truth came out and became one of the most public examples of catfishing.

This Manti Te’O story is sooo sad

Kekua had an entirely fake Facebook profile, which is where the two first made contact. They did call and text quite a bit throughout their long distance relationship. Making it even more of a shock when Te'o was revealed to have been completely fooled.

Kekua "died" of leukemia on the same day the Notre Dame star's grandmother passed away. Te'o persevered through the pain to lead his team to a 20-3 upset of Michigan State. His performance was iconic, recording 12 tackles, a forced fumble and breaking up two passes.


The following week, Notre Dame had a game on the day of Kekua's funeral. Te'o persevered once again, recording eight tackles and two interceptions.

The inspiring story propelled Notre Dame to a BCS National Championship appearance, where they lost to Alabama. A week later, the linebacker's world came crashing down when the truth about his "girlfriend" was revealed.

Manti Te’o and his online connection dominated headlines in 2013.Now, for the first time, find out what really happened in UNTOLD: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist. Premiering tomorrow.

A new Netflix documentary is available that details everything that happened to him.

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Edited by John Maxwell
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