Manti Te'o -- the college football superstar who fell for one of the most famous catfishing scams to date -- is opening up on his decision to go public with his side of the hoax ... saying attending a Jay-Z concert helped him come forward.
Remember, the former Notre Dame linebacker reportedly lost his grandma and girlfriend within hours of each other in 2012 ... except the entire romance was based on a lie.
As it turns out, Te'o didn't know his GF -- Lennay Kekua, a student at Stanford -- didn't actually exist ... despite previously stating he had met her in person (Te'o adamantly denies being involved in the hoax).
Manti -- who was eventually drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft -- is now speaking about the whole thing ... and says he was first inspired to go public with his story after attending a Jay-Z concert as a member of the New Orleans Saints in 2017.
"Cam Jordan with the Saints took a bunch of us teammates to a Jay-Z concert," Te'o said on "CBS Mornings."
"And at that concert, Jay-Z opens up with saying these words -- 'you cannot heal what you don't reveal.' And it may have been just some random words to everybody, but for me, at that time, it hit me like a ton of bricks."
"In order for me to kind of heal from this, I needed to reveal it."
Te'o said he vowed to share his side when the next opportunity came -- and in 2020, documentary director Tony Vainuku approached him.
What resulted was the "Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist" project, which just hit Netflix on Tuesday.
Now, Manti says he's happily married ... with one daughter, and a son on the way.