‘A Hawk of Great Character and Resolve:’ NFL star, Hendricken grad Kwity Paye returns to alma mater for jersey retirement


WARWICK — A roar of applause echoed throughout Bishop Hendricken High School’s Pepin Gym as a banner revealed the number of 2017 graduate and current NFL defensive end Kwity Paye. The pro-athlete and beloved alumnus was met with a warm welcome as he returned to his former Catholic high school Monday afternoon to receive the special honor of having his jersey retired.
Buddy Croft ‘70, former varsity football coach, gave a moving speech to introduce Paye, stating he is “Hendricken’s greatest athlete. He is a Hawk of great character and resolve.”
The school community packed the gymnasium, all energized and cheering with pride as Paye made his entrance.

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Visibly emotional, Paye thanked all those involved for his high school experience and spoke to the students, motivating today’s Hawks to give their best efforts every day.
“I am extremely blessed to be here. I am extremely honored,” he said, wiping away tears.
Bringing a smile to the faces of all attendees, Father Robert L. Marciano, KHS '75, Hendricken’s president, presented Paye’s mother with a bouquet of flowers recognizing her for her strength and the resolve that she instilled in her son Kwity.
“We are blessed to count Kwity as one of Bishop Hendricken's alumni not because he is a standout football player, but because he is a stellar young man whose character and compassion for others is unmatched,” said Father Marciano. “This jersey retirement is a testament to his hard work in providing a better life for his family.”
Varsity football Head Coach Keith Croft '95, stated, “Kwity Paye is not only a phenomenal athlete, but also a beacon of leadership and teamwork.”
Paye, who grew up in Providence, was born in a refugee camp in the African nation of Guinea and went on to star at the University of Michigan before the Colts made him the 21st pick overall in the 2021 NFL draft.
Paye returned to Bishop Hendricken following his third year with the Indianapolis Colts. This spring, the organization exercised Paye's fifth-year option, keeping him under contract with the team through the 2025 season.