Former Michigan star Kwity Paye to release NFT to benefit TUFF non-profit

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Former Michigan defensive end Kwity Paye is on the cusp of becoming a first-round NFL Draft selection, and as soon as he’s selected, two unique fundraisers will be launched on his behalf for the non-profit, The Uniform Funding Foundation (TUFF).

Paye, expected to be an NFL Draft first-rounder Thursday night, has played a significant role as a board member for TUFF, which was founded in 2018 by his former Michigan teammate, Adam Shibley. TUFF raises money to supply uniforms to under-served youth sports teams. TUFF began in Cleveland and then focused on Detroit and is gradually expanding.

Michigan defensive lineman Kwity Paye will make this digitial trading card, or NFT, available on the night of the NFL Draft.

To raise funds for TUFF, Paye will release a 1-of-1 NFT (non-fungible token), a digital trading card, that when he is drafted will go live on the website through the digital marketplace, OpenSea. Bids will be accepted through Sunday at 8 p.m. The auction winner also will receive a signed personalized jersey by Paye from the NFL team that drafts him. Paye also will have four pair of his signed limited-edition Jordan cleats going up for auction through “The Player’s Trunk” site as soon as he’s drafted. All proceeds from both auctions will go to TUFF.

“I just remember growing up and the uniforms I played in,” Paye told The Detroit News last summer when TUFF donated uniforms to several Detroit youth football teams. “They weren’t the best uniforms, and playing against other teams, they would come out in nice helmets and all the jerseys looked brand new from that year, and we’d wear uniforms that had been in the organization for years. It wasn’t a nice thing.

“Coming out here and helping these boys out, giving them new uniforms, it was for sure something I wanted to do because I grew up being jealous of the other teams like, man, I wish I had some jerseys like that. Swag is very crucial for your game plan. Once you feel good, you play good.”

Former Michigan football player Jared Wangler and former Michigan hockey player Niko Porikos have created The Valiant Collection, which, with a Michigan licensing agreement, plans to produce more NFT featuring “iconic Michigan moments,” Wangler said. Their collaboration with Paye is their first NFT effort.

Each NFT is unique and can’t be duplicated and has a serial number recorded on a blockchain. Purchases of NFTs are made with cryptocurrency.

The NBA is extremely involved in NFT through NBA Top Shot — a LeBron James highlight NFT sold for $200,000. Seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady recently announced his new NFT company called Autograph.

Luka Garza, the former Iowa basketball player, created a 1-of-1 NFT after his college career ended, and it sold for $41,141 earlier this month. A portion of those proceeds were to be donated to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Twitter: @chengelis