#9 Manti Te’o
Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o inspires Notre Dame teammates to BCS Championship Game
By most accounts, September 11 was a bad day in American history. Not only did the nation remember the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorists attacks, but a terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi took the lives of four U.S. citizens.
But for Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, September 11 had it’s own set of troubles. Te’o lost both his girlfriend Lennay Kekua to leukemia and his grandmother. Because of a promise to Lennay, Te’o didn’t miss a single game throughout the grieving process. His dedication and faith inspired the Fighting Irish to a perfect 12-0 season and a spot in the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama (to be played January 7, 2013).
Te’o was one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy, was named First Team All-American and First-Team Academic All-American and collected eight individual honors including the Lott Trophy, the Maxwell Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Walter Camp Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Butkus Award, the Lombardi Award and the ARA Sportsmanship Award.
Through the intense highs and lows of the season, Te’o always made sure onlookers recognized the source of his strength.
“I think for anybody who’s questioning if God lives, He lives, and I’m an example of that,” he told the Associated Press. “For those who don’t know if He answers your prayers, He does, because He answered mine. If He didn’t answer prayers, I wouldn’t be here…and I wouldn’t have done a lot of things that I’ve done.”