Manti Te'o continues to impress. Only a small part of the great work he does is on the field for Notre Dame.
The senior linebacker is one of the best players in the country, but the best stories of Te'o this season have been how well he has represented himself, his family and Notre Dame.
FoxSports' Greg Couch wrote a great story about how Te'o took the time to write an email to the parents of Bridget Smith, a 12-year-old girl who was dying of cancer. The email reached the family on Oct. 5, Bridget's last day. Bridget's parents got the email hours before they unplugged Bridget's ventilator.
Read the story. It's sad and beautiful. It's a great glimpse into Te'o and his character, and the best of what sports has to offer.
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According to the story, Notre Dame officials had no idea he wrote the letter, and Te'o didn't publicize it to anyone. Te'o heard about the girl through a mutual friend. He didn't know her. Bridget Smith loved Notre Dame football and Te'o.
Te'o drew upon his own grieving when he wrote the email. He lost his grandmother and his girlfriend earlier this year. Couch's story said the heartfelt email, if written out, would probably have been about two pages long.
"We opened that letter that morning, and it was just a bright spot on the saddest day of our lives,'' Bridget's mother Louise Smith told Couch. "We read it to her; we shared with her what it said. They say hearing is the last thing to go. I don't know. I believe she internalized it.
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"It's so encouraging to have someone in that position know there's something more important than football, more important than athletics. It was a beautiful letter, just sharing the experience with the death of his girlfriend.''
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick told the New York Times that Te'o was such a great match for the Fighting Irish because of the person he is, the fit seemed "preordained." Te'o has 69 tackles and four interceptions in seven games. His Heisman Trophy candidacy should also include the things that aren't seen on Saturday.
"I still constantly pray for Bridget and her family,'' Te'o said. "You know, Bridget's in a better place now. She's with my girlfriend. There's no better place to be.''
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