Kwity Paye was one of 32 players drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but no player had a more inspired suit for the big night. The Michigan Wolverines pass rusher was wearing a Black Panther-themed suit when he was picked with the 21st selection by the Indianapolis Colts.
Paye, 22, was born in a refugee camp in Guinea to a Liberian mother who fled her home country due to the First Liberian Civil War. When he was still just six months old, Paye’s mother brought he and his brother to Providence, Rhode Island where he eventually developed into a star football player. After four years at the University of Michigan where he earned All-Big Ten honors twice, Paye became the Colts’ top pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
On Draft night, Paye wore a suit unmistakably inspired by Marvel’s African-born superhero, Black Panther. Around the collar were the teeth of King T’Challa’s ceremonial necklace, along with a Vibranium purple lining, and an elephant pendant.
According to Tyler Ricky Tynes of GQ Magazine, the suit was designed by Adonis Jennings, a former Green Bay Packers wide receiver who has turned to a career of designing luxury custom clothing.
Kwity Paye Celebrated Sacks at Michigan With ‘Wakanda Forever’ Salute
Paye has been paying homage to Chadwick Boseman’s titular Marvel character long before the night he became the newest member of the Colts.
“We played Northwestern my sophomore year, and I had two sacks that game,” Paye told the Toledo Blade in September 2020. “Ever since then, every time I get a sack I always do ‘Wakanda Forever.’ I feel like any time I put on the uniform, any time I go out and play, I feel like I’m a real-life superhero. And just watching the movie made me feel like I was a superhero. It made me feel like I was putting on my armor.”
It remains to be seen if he’ll bring his trademark sack celebration to the NFL, although his Draft day suit seems to show that he’s not done honoring the late Boseman.
The Future of ‘Black Panther’ Is Still a Mystery
The only movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a higher lifetime gross than Black Panther is Avengers: Endgame. With such a wildly successful start to a new superhero franchise, Marvel Studios was already talking about a sequel days ahead of the first film’s theatrical release.
But the world was blindsided by the August 2020 death of Boseman, who kept his 2016 colon cancer diagnosis extraordinarily private. According to The Hollywood Reporter, no one involved in Black Panther was aware of Boseman’s battle with cancer.
Still, Black Panther 2 is set for a 2022 release and there’s also an untitled Disney Plus series set in Wakanda off on the horizon.
“The way which [director Ryan Coogler] has reshaped the second movie is so respectful of the loss we’ve all experienced as a cast and as a world,” Black Panther star Lupita Nyong’o told Yahoo in April. “So it feels spiritually and emotionally correct to do this. And hopefully, what I do look forward to, is getting back together and honoring what he started with us and holding his light through it. Because he left us a lot of light that we’re still going to be bathing in. I know that for sure.”
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