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Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o to play while mourning two deaths

Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o will play while mourning two deaths. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Notre Dame senior linebacker Manti Te'o will play against Michigan State on Saturday while mourning the deaths of two people close to him this week.

Te'o's father, Brian, told the Chicago Tribune that Manti Te'o's grandmother died on Tuesday night. His girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, succumbed to leukemia early Wednesday morning.

"He lost some people very close to him, and it's obviously taken a toll on him," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told reporters after practice Thursday. "Our players have been there for him and have been a great support. We'll support him. He'll be with us. He practiced. He'll be playing Saturday against Michigan State.

"Unfortunately, he's gone through a very rough 24, 48 hours. But his support and his family at home have been great, and all of the coaches and players have been there for him. He wants to be with his teammates, he wants to be with the people that care about him. He's a strong man and he's going through a tough time, but he'll rise to the occasion."

Kelly said Te'o, whose Mormon faith was chronicled in a 2010 Tribune feature, may return to his native Hawaii to mourn with family and friends after the Michigan State game.

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