Football linebacker Manti Te’o is telling his side of the story. In 2012, the former NFL player shared that both his girlfriend and grandmother had passed away on the same day. Unbeknownst to him, however, his girlfriend hadn’t actually died, because she wasn’t real. The situation developed into a high-profile catfishing hoax, which is now the subject of the Netflix documentary Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist. As it turns out, a fateful moment at a Jay-Z concert inspired the footballer to share his story.
“Cam Jordan with the Saints took a bunch of us teammates to a Jay-Z concert,” Te’o said, recalling the 2017 concert during a Tuesday (Aug. 16) interview on CBS Mornings. “And at that concert, Jay-Z opens with saying these words, ‘You cannot heal what you don’t reveal.’ And it may have been just some random words to everybody, but for me, at that time, it hit me like a ton of bricks.”
“In order for me to heal from this, I need to reveal it,” the 31-year-old said, referring to the rapper’s 4:44 opener “Kill Jay Z.” Te’o continued, “So I challenged myself at that time if anyone had asked about it or had questions about it that I would be open, that I would those hard conversations and I started to feel the strength I got from talking about it.
The trailer for Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist sees Te’o talking about the moments her learned he was being catfished, and how new of a phenomenon it was at the time. “My uncle immediately said, ‘I think you’re getting catfished,’” he said. “And that was the first time that somebody ever brought up the term ‘catfish.’ I didn’t know what catfishing was. Even when he explained what it was, I still couldn’t understand what that even entailed.”
Watch Te’o explain his connection to Jay-Z — as well as the trailer for Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist — below.