After an illustrious football career, Manti Te’o has been selected to the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023.

Te’o, who is of Samoan and Hawaiian ancestry, is part of a three-member class that also includes former NFL offensive linemen Larry Warford and Harry Montague-Field.

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Te’o, a Laie native and former Punahou star, was regarded as one of the top high school prospects in the country as a linebacker. He went on to play collegiately for Notre Dame, where he was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2012.

After being selected by the then-San Diego Chargers in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Te’o had stints with the Chargers, New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Bears. He has not appeared in an NFL game since Jan. 9, 2021.

“It’s super special for me. It’s super special not only for myself, but for my family,” Te’o told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “I’ve always credited my family, my parents, my siblings for all the hard work they put in, all of the sacrifices that they put in on my behalf. This is just a credit to them, my community, the state, and all the many people that have played a vital role in my life and so I wouldn’t be in such great company if it wasn’t for all of those people.”

Just as Te’o served as an inspiration for many who came before him, Te’o continues to watch and root for other active athletes in the Polynesian community.

“I stood on the shoulders of giants and pushing that message forward and taken that torch as far as I can and you got Tua (Tagovailoa) doing the same thing, you got Marcus (Mariota) doing the same thing. Kamu (Grugier-Hill), and you got guys that aren’t even in football, Max (Holloway), Yancy (Medeiros), Puna (Soriano), Carissa Moore doing her thing, you got the Shojis, I can go on and on with people from the state that has taken their torch and have run with it as far as they could and hopefully the next generation, they take it and they take it further for the next and that’s what it’s all about, just tying to be an inspiration to the next generation and hopefully they can take it further.”