These JAY-Z Lyrics Made Manti Te'o Realise He Needed to Tell His Catfishing Story

Getty / Wesley Hitt

Manti Te’o was inspired to revisit his story by something JAY-Z said at a concert, the football star revealed on CBS Mornings on Aug. 16. In the interview, Te’o said that one line JAY-Z rapped at the beginning of the show struck him, and eventually led him to tell his side of the story in the Netflix documentary “Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist.”

Te’o was at a concert on JAY-Z’s 4:44 tour in 2017 with some teammates when he heard the fateful words. “At that concert, JAY-Z opens with saying these words, ‘You cannot heal what you don’t reveal,'” Te’o said. “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.”

At the time he made the album “4:44,” JAY-Z – embroiled in a cheating scandal detailed in his wife Beyoncé’s visionary, game-changing album “Lemonade” – was going through his own process of self-confrontation and healing, and his confessional album 4:44 finds catharsis through honesty. “I fall short of what I say I’m all about,” he raps on the track “Kill Jay Z,” which would go on to inspire Te’o years later. “You can’t heal what you never reveal. You know you owe the truth / To all the youth that fell in love with JAY-Z.”

Those words inspired Te’o revisit a traumatic time in his life. When he was a senior at Notre Dame University, Te’o was a star football player who gained national attention when he revealed that his grandmother and his girlfriend had died on the same day. Later, however, journalists at Deadspin revealed that his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua – who Te’o had only interacted with online – actually didn’t exist. Te’o had been catfished, and he quickly became the subject of widespread scrutiny and ridicule.

Te’o was eventually drafted into the NFL, and went on to marry and have kids of his own, but scars from the incident remained. After hearing what JAY-Z said, he realised that “in order for me to kind of heal from this, I needed to reveal it.”

He does that and more in the Netflix documentary, providing viewers with a window into his point of view and showcasing his own pure-hearted nature in the process. He has received an outpouring of support following the documentary’s release, and released a message of thanks for his fans shortly after it aired. “It’s been so amazing to me to hear the battles that we’re all facing, the challenges that we’re facing in our lives at this time, and how the documentary has given some of us hope, the extra push just to keep going,” he wrote on Instagram, adding that he hopes the documentary will “give some of us hope who needed it, to tell those who needed some love that they’re loved, and to help them to forgive, to forgive others, and, most importantly, to forgive themselves.”

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