Linebacker Manti Te'o spent his youth growing up in Laie, Hawaii and will likely spend a large portion of his adult life in the city of the NFL team that drafts him, but he will always call Notre Dame home.
As Scott Krinch of Comcast Sports Net Chicago writes, Te'o considered himself blessed to be a part of the Fighting Irish community.
"There are no words that can describe what this place means to me," Te'o said. "I never thought a place besides Laie could be my home, and this has been my home and more. Just the love and everything that this community has done for me and for my team and family. I'm definitely very blessed to be here."
Notre Dame is in the midst of a magical 2012 campaign, needing only one win to make the BCS National Championship Game, but their star linebacker has played most of the season with a heavy heart. Te'o's grandmother and girlfriend died within six hours of each other in early September.
But Te'o shouldered the grief and found inspiration in it. He played his best football following the tragedy, and the Fighting Irish faithful took notice. On Senior Day against Wake Forest, they gave Te'o an emotional sign of their appreciation.
"There was that moment and then when coach took me out...I'll always remember for the rest of my life."
Te'o's career at Notre Dame has been tremendous, but it is not quite over yet. Notre Dame plays USC on the road next Saturday looking to clinch their berth in the BCS National Championship Game.