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Kennedy retires No. 21’s jersey before packed gymnasium

Kennedy Catholic in Somers retires the No. 21 jersey of Tyrelll Thompson.

Thompson’s wife, family, former teammates on hand for dedication

Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers retires the jersey of No. 21 Tyrell Thompson.

Tyrell’s wife, Michelle Smyth, stands at center court with her fellow 2006 classmates and members of the 2004 State and Federation championship team.

Former Lady Gaels point guard Michelle Smyth entered the recently renovated Kennedy Catholic gymnasium on Dec. 11 wearing the dog tags of her late husband and 2006 classmate, Tyrell Thompson.  They were tangible reminders of the man his alma mater was about to honor.

Others carried reminders, too.  Thompson’s parents, Al and Lisa Scott, carried grateful yet heavy hearts, weighed down by the medical reality of what all who were gathered knew to be figuratively true.  That the immense heart of the man whose smile was too big for the room was also literally, as Lisa revealed, too big for him.

“Tyrell’s reputation as a gentleman, scholar and basketball player was very much alive when I was first assigned to Kennedy,” the Rev. Mark Vaillancourt, president and principal of Kennedy Catholic said in retiring Tyrell’s No. 21 navy blue Gaels jersey before a packed gym on Dec. 11.  “I’ve been blessed and humbled to learn about the wonderful man he became from his friends and family, someone about whom Kennedy can be most proud.”

Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers retires the No. 21 jersey of Tyrell Thompson

Tyrell’s wife and parents receive a prolonged standing ovation from the alumni, family and friends that packed the stands of the renovated Kennedy Catholic gymnasium on Dec. 11.

Such sentiments and reminders abounded.  Joining Smyth and the Scotts at center court were former coach Tom Nelligan and members of the 2004 championship team, each carrying memories of a magical run to Glen Falls and a state title.  More than 125 alumni filled out the standing-room-only crowd; families, friends and fans who came to remember a young man who had given them so many special memories.

“Some say that Ty helped make Kennedy,” Lisa said, referencing the teams that put Kennedy Catholic basketball on the map as a perennial powerhouse, “But they must also realize that Kennedy helped make Ty.”

Lisa thanked all the administrators and faculty for being a part of Tyrell’s journey.  She noted how now retired math chair Richard Dunne would always put a handwritten note of encouragement on her son’s homework.  So also thanked all of Tyrell’s coaches, and especially the teammates and friends who were such a big part of his life.

“He had a million-dollar smile,” coach Al Morales said, referring to the perpetually grinning Gael whom he described as an “All-American” kid.

Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers retires the No. 21 jersey of Tyrell Thompson.

Kennedy Catholic President the Rev. Mark Vaillancourt recounts all the wonderful things he has heard about Thompson since becoming president, noting that Tyrell was “someone about whom Kennedy can be most proud.”

Indeed, Thompson will be as much remembered for the smiles that supported friends and classmates off the court as the ones his play induced while on the hardwood.  The girls’ varsity basketball team had posted handmade signs before the ceremony, each its own special memory of “Ty”.  One in particular referenced the U.S. Army first lieutenant’s “legendary swag”, alluding to the cool confidence he always exuded, usually accompanied by a No. 1 finger.

And so Kennedy Catholic retired Thompson’s No. 21 jersey on Dec. 11, a lasting reminder that as the plaque presented to Al and Lisa Scott states, he will always be No. 1 in the Gaels’ hearts.

For more pictures, stories and videos on the Dec. 11 ceremony, visit the Journal News, MSG Varsity, News 12 Westchester and PennySaver Community.  Photos by Jacob Bergmeier and Alex Malecki

The retirement of Tyrell's number 21 jersey. One of the greatest men we have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

A photo posted by Kennedy Catholic (@kennedycatholic) on

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