Manti Te’o is best recognized as a linebacker in the National Football League; now a free agent, he last played for the New Orleans Saints. Like most footballers, the beginning of his career has been traced to his high school where he nurtured his burgeoning talent before proceeding to play college football at Notre Dame.
Manti is known as the footballer who fell prey to a fake online girlfriend. The player was liberated from the drama through the efforts of some good investigative journalists but the gist had already gone viral.
He Was Twice a Gatorade State Player of The Year In High School
Born on January 26, 1991, Manti Te’o was named Manti Malietau Te’o by his parents, Brian and Ottilia Te’o, who have five other children. It is known that he played football for Punahou School, a private co-ed institution in Manoa, Honolulu where he also had his middle school education.
Manti earned the title of Gatorade state player of the year and state defensive player of the year from the Honolulu Advertiser as a junior in 2007. His stats of five sacks on defense, 90 tackles, 10 touchdowns, and 400 rushing yards made him a receiver of first-team all-state honors which drew the attention of many colleges.
The youngster came into his senior year as one of the most distinguished footballers at the state and national levels, and before the commencement of the season, he landed on a good number of lists for national top ten recruitment. His stats as a senior was exceptional as he led his school to their debut state championship in football in the 2008 season.
Finishing his high school junior year with exceptional records that earned him massive attention, Te’o improved on his performance as a senior and earned his second Gatorade State Player of the Year Award. That’s not all, he bagged a good number of other awards including being named to First-Team All-American.
Exploits With The Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Given the huge success of his high school career, it wasn’t a surprise that Manti Te’o was a reputed 5-star recruit who had over 30 colleges offering him scholarships. For reasons best known to him, he picked the Notre Dame and signed up for an active college football career with them.
Te’o kept up with his impressive performance as he blazed for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team; this was from 2009 to 2012. He picked up various awards in the later year. Apart from being a Unanimous All-American, he received the Lott Trophy, the Lombardi Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Butkus, Maxwell, Walter Camp, and Chuck Bednarik award. It was a harvest of awards for the linebacker
His Professional Career Started With The San Diego Charger
With an excellent college football career, he declared for the 2013 National Football League drafting and was selected as the 38th overall in the 2nd round of the year’s NFL draft by the San Diego Charger. Manti Te’o became the highest selected linebacker from Notre Dame only second to Demetrius DuBose in 1993. The team later signed him to a 4-year contract worth over $5 million. The deal which was inked on the 10th of May 2013 was reported to guarantee $3.1 million and handed the Linebacker $2,141,768 million signing bonus.
Due to an injury on his right foot, Manti Te’o missed a major part of the preseason and regular season-opening match against the Houston Texans. However, he made his NFL debut against the Dallas Cowboys in a Week 4 matchup, finishing with three tackles as his team claimed the day. By the end of his rookie season, he started in 13 games, defended four passes, and had 16 tackles.
With a mind to up his game for the 2014 season, history repeated itself when the footballer incurred another injury (a fractured foot) on the 23rd of September 2014. Though he bounced back by midseason, the linebacker concluded the season with 61 tackles, a single sack, an interception, in addition to 3 pass deflections. Another ankle injury made him miss four games during mid-season in 2015 but he finished with 63 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble. After he emerged as one of the Chargers’ team captains for the 2016 season, Manti Te’o had a torn Achilles which landed him on injured reserve
Joining The New Orleans Saints In 2017
The American player penned a two-year contract with the New Orleans Saints on the 21st of March 2017. The season saw him lead the Saints in tackles for loss. Te’o was a healthy inactive in all except five games during the 2018 season and consequently, the team did not resign him at the expiration of his contract.
He remained inactive for almost the entire 2019 season but luck smiled on him when he was re-signed on the 3rd of December by the New Orleans Saints.
Even though it isn’t out of place for many to assert that this Linebacker hasn’t equaled the attainments of his high school and college career as a professional, there is no denying that he is a fine footballer.
The Embarrassing Story of The Footballer’s Quest for a Lover
One ugly incident that Manti Te’o may never erase from his mind was his experience with his mysterious online girlfriend named Lennay Kekua; she allegedly died of Leukemia in 2012. Manti announced to the media that his grandmother and girlfriend had died on the same day – September 11, 2012. Little did he know that the said girlfriend was just being impersonated by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. It took the intervention of reporters like Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey to unravel the hoax.
It is said that the hoax was uncovered through a mail Te’o received in January of 2013 which promptly led to the person behind the scam. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a family friend of Manti was duly identified as the impersonator. Ronaiah used the pictures of Diane O’meara, his former high school mate to carry out the crime. According to Manti Te’o, he got Tuiasosopo’s confession on the 16th of January that he was behind the hoax.
It would appear that it was not only Te’o that was duped by Tuiasosopo, former footballer Reagan Maui’a also made some useful revelations about meeting a similar person claiming to be Kekua a couple of times and it happened that Tuiasosopo was the one who introduced them. At the end of the day, Kekua did not exist; she was born and died on social media.
Manti Te’o Now Has a Real Girlfriend
If you imagined that the linebacker was going to be put off women with the girlfriend hoax that gave him negative publicity, you are completely wrong. Even though Manti Te’o is still unmarried, he is currently dating the beautiful Instagram model and fitness trainer, Jovi Nicole Engbino.
It is said that the two met three years after Manti’s fake girlfriend drama. Since 2016, they have been spotted together publicly on several occasions. Nicole took to Instagram to show off her boyfriend and as far as we can tell, what they share has been waxing stronger.