New sports documentary has people questioning the story they once thought they knew


Makaila Molina, Staff Reporter

What could be known as a major comeback story, Manti Te’o’s new documentary soars in ratings on Netflix. Manti Te’o was originally known for being one of the best upcoming football players from 2009-2012 until he soon became a laughing stock to people all over the world. 

In 2009, Te’o was eating up the football world while attending the University of Notre Dame. He won eight awards while also graduating with a 3.3 GPA. While at Notre Dame, Te’o, in his freshman year, met a girl online by the name of Lennay Kekua. Te’o and Kekua bonded over many things and Te’o would often find himself confiding in this persona. Te’o had never met her in person, but he never doubted she existed because at this point in the world, catfishing hadn’t really been known like the way it is now. 

In the movie, Te’o mentions many times how they would talk to each other daily, even on the phone. Te’o would throw out ways for them to meet and Kekua would cancel at the last minute or say that she just wasn’t able to. Besides no physical contact, their relationship grew and grew and so did Te’o’s career. Te’o grew up in Laie, Hawaii, so many people back home were cheering him on for representing all of them and their culture. Te’o continued to become more known within the media as well.

The movie’s mood begins to take a turn for the worst when Te’o’s grandmother passes, and on the same day, so does Kekua. Te’o gets a call from Kekua’s brother, stating that she had passed. Te’o goes on to continue playing and dedicates the whole senior season to his late grandmother and girlfriend. This news spreads throughout the news and media outlets. Talking about how saddening all of this must have been for Te’o. 

Te’o continues to impress people on the field with his skills while America loved him for his talent and his heartbreaking story. This all quickly topples over when a small news site begins to do their research on this interesting situation. Something that many people did find suspicious was that nobody knew what this ‘girlfriend’ even looked like. The news site catches onto the fact that it had all been a lie and the girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, never even existed. The site released an article on this and it rapidly got reads and was trending everywhere. 

When all of this had taken place, many believed that Manti Te’o created this whole story of his girlfriend dying when he knew it was all false, but the documentary shows proof that that was not the case. Although, at this point, people did not know this so they called Te’o many names and many of them couldn’t believe how ‘stupid’ he could be if all of this was true. 

The person who played Kekua went by the name Roniah Tuiasosopo who has now transitioned and goes by the name Naya. She also had many things to say in the documentary about how she regrets countless decisions throughout that time and how she has grown from the person she was. Manti has stated that he does forgive her, but he will never forget the hate he got from the whole situation, even though he was the victim in it all. Many people are praising Te’o for his strength, including celebrities and others. Manti Te’o is now married with his second baby on the way. 

The documentary shows both sides of the story and the thought processes of both of these people. The documentary does a phenomenal job of letting them speak about how they feel and at times, it could be frustrating to understand how somebody could do this to someone else, but the movie achieves the goal of catching people’s attention and holding it to get to the core of Tuiasosopo reasoning and how she felt at the time and why she did what she did. The most important thing in the movie as well is that they cleared Te’o’s name from the story and show how he had nothing, but good intentions.