Manti Te’o got a parade back in his home state of Hawaii on Saturday, perhaps a bit of compensation after the defender once pegged as a top 10 NFL draft pick fell out of the first round entirely.
The Notre Dame linebacker had an incredible regular season, leading one of the nation’s best defenses with seven interceptions and a slew of postseason awards. But then his season hit a big hitch.
Manti Te’o was undressed in the BCS title game against Alabama, looking woefully out of place against a roster stocked with NFL talent. He also saw his draft stock drop after it emerged that his girlfriend who died during the regular season never actually existed and was just an elaborate prank.
Add to that a poor combine performance in which Te’o ran a 4.82 40-yard dash, and draft experts were wondering if the Notre Dame star would be drafted in the first round at all.
It turns out he wasn’t, but not by much. The San Diego Chargers took Te’o in the No. 38 spot, moving up to do so.
People in the home state of Manti Te’o think that’s worth a parade.
“It‘s a dream of a lifetime, after all these years playing Pop Warner, high school, college and you finally get a chance to get drafted and one of the most talked about athlete in the nation,” says Junior Ah You, Hawaii Sports Hall of Famer.
It was Junior Ah who organized the celebration for Manti Te’o, an event with thousands of pounds of food for both Te’o and his Hawaiian teammate Robby Toma.
“Its gonna be crazy, people will go wild it’s a very unique town, people are all family oriented, it will be lots of fun, lots of excitement there will be lots of spirit here,” Ah You said.
Despite all the drama that surrounded Te’o this year, residents in his Hawaiian hometown still love him.
“A lot of kids that is younger than him that go to Kahuku High School, they alllook up to him, he’s a good kid,” said Kahuku resident Kahea Freitas.
The parade for Manti Te’o took place Saturday afternoon, just a few hours after Te’o officially became a member of the Chargers.