Notre Dame will have one of the top defensive players in the country on the field when it takes the field against Michigan State Saturday, although said player will also sadly be playing with a very heavy heart.
According to multiple media outlets, the grandmother and girlfriend of All-American linebacker Manti Te’o passed away this week in his native state of Hawaii. Te’o girlfriend lost her lengthy battle with leukemia less than a day after his grandmother died.
Irish head coach Brian Kelly would only acknowledge that Te’o had lost “some people very close to” him when asked by local media Thursday. Kelly also confirmed that, despite the toll its taken, Te’o will play against the No. 10 Spartans this weekend.
“It’s obviously taken a toll on him,” Kelly said according to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. “Our players have been there for him and have been a great support. We’ll support him.
“Unfortunately, he’s gone through a very rough 24, 48 hours. But his support and his family at home have been great, and all of the coaches and players have been there for him. He wants to be with his teammates, he wants to be with the people that care about him. He’s a strong man and he’s going through a tough time, but he’ll rise to the occasion.”
Kelly added that Te’o may return to Hawaii for part of the week after the MSU game and before the Michigan game next weekend.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Te’o as he grieves for his losses.