In 2017, upon addressing those in attendance after officially signing his letter of intent to play football at the University of Michigan, Kwity Paye had a special message for his mother, Agnes.
Four years later, after being selected 21st overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2021 NFL Draft, Paye doubled down on that declaration for his mother, whom he embraced while being interviewed on national TV.
"She's done working. She's retired," Paye said as Agnes and the rest of their family and friends in the room erupted into cheers.
After escaping two civil wars in West Africa to bring her two sons to the United States, and then working relentlessly to provide for her family over the next two decades, Agnes could finally relax.
Agnes has done just that the past 18-plus months, enjoying the retired life and traveling the world while Paye makes a name for himself as one of the top young edge rushers in the NFL.
And on Sunday, Paye and Agnes had a "full-circle" moment, as she made the short 45-minute drive north from their hometown of Providence, R.I., to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., to watch her son play in the NFL for the first time.
"It's a dream come true to be able to play in front of friends and family. I grew up here. It was cool seeing my mom — that was her first game seeing me play — and seeing friends from back home, it was amazing," Paye told reporters following the Colts' Week 9 road matchup against the New England Patriots. "It means everything. She was wearing her jersey that she got on draft day … it feels good."
That Paye was going to be able to play in this "homecoming" game wasn't necessarily a sure thing heading into the week. He suffered an ankle injury Week 5 against the Denver Broncos and had missed the Colts' last three games.
But after a solid week of practice, Paye was officially cleared by Friday — and he made sure to make up for lost time, as well as show off for his family and friends in the stands.
Paye logged a single-game career-best eight tackles, and also notched a sack — his fourth of the season — to go along with one tackle for loss and one quarterback hit. He was a key part of a stout defensive performance for the Colts, who allowed just 203 net yards on the day, but the Patriots would ultimately earn a 26-3 victory.
"I was just trying to show off for my momma, man. I was trying to do my thing. But, you know, we came up short," Paye said. "I was trying to do my part, and I just try to make her happy every time I go out there."
"It's a full-circle moment, just coming back home and playing in front of the family," Paye continued. "She's been doing her thing — she's been traveling since she's been retired; she just came back from Trinidad — so I'm happy to see her living the life that she's supposed to be living. And, yeah, a full-circle moment to come home and have her first game seeing me play at home."