Green Beret, Hockey Star, Activist and Dad: Michael Mantenuto Was So Much More Than the Actor from Miracle

Many fans recognize Michael Mantenuto from his role in Disney’s Miracle, but those who knew him best will remember him more for his work offscreen as a father, soldier, hockey star and community activists.

“He was so much more than just a Miracle actor,” Teena Lepene, a friend of the actor, tells PEOPLE. After a short career in show business, Mantenuto joined the Army. He was a Special Forces sergeant stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington at the time of his death. He was 35.

The actor was found on Monday afternoon after sustaining a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the King County medical examiner’s office in Seattle, Washington, tells PEOPLE. His death has officially been ruled a suicide. He’s survived by his wife, Kati, and two children: daughter Ava and son Leo.

Lepene, who knew Mantenuto from his special forces training at Fort Bragg, says, “ was awesome and charismatic, people were naturally drawn to him.” While going through a rigorous special forces qualification course, Lepene says Mantenuto found time to start a youth hockey program on post with MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation), a network of support and leisure services for soldiers and their families.

“This course is intense and incredibly time consuming, …read more    

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