• Paqui Kelly is an American of Spanish descent who is married to famous American Football coach Brian Kelly.
• She is a two-time cancer survivor and she and her husband established the Kelly Cares Foundation to promote health education and community work.
• She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 and then again in 2007.
• She opted for a double mastectomy in 2008 and has since worked with the foundation to raise awareness of breast cancer.
• She is currently healthy and supporting her husband as he coaches at Louisiana State University.
Paqui Kelly Biography
A high school chemistry teacher, Francisca Barbara Craig – better known by her nickname Paqui – was born under the zodiac sign of Aquarius on 9 February 1966, and although her specific birthplace is unknown, she was born in the USA, thus she holds American nationality, while she comes from a family of Spanish descent. Her mother is a native of Madrid, Spain, and is credited for her nickname, which in English means ‘to be happy’.
Paqui hasn’t shared her parents’ names and professions, however, it’s known that she isn’t their only child, and that she has five sisters.
Speaking about her educational background, she attended a local high school, and upon matriculating in 1984, enrolled at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, from which she ultimately graduated with a Master’s degree in Education in 1989.
Why is she famous?
Paqui is well-known only as the wife of the famous American Football coach, Brian Kelly, who is currently the head coach at Louisiana State University; he previously served as the head coach at Grand Valley State University from 1991 until 2003, then at Central Michigan University from 2004 until 2006, the University of Cincinnati from 2006 until 2009, and at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, from 2010 until 2021.
He was born on 25 October 1961, in Everett, Massachusetts, and was raised by his parents in Chelsea, Massachusetts; although he hasn’t spoken about his childhood, it’s known that he was raised in a Catholic Irish-American family.
Brian attended St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers, Massachusetts, and upon matriculating in 1979, he enrolled at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, from which he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, in 1983. During his college days, he played football as a linebacker, and after graduating, he served as softball coach, linebackers coach, and defensive coordinator until 1986.
In the following year, he joined the Grand Valley State University staff, and at that time met his future wife Paqui. The two started dating in 1990, and four years later on 2 July, they tied the knot in the presence of their closest family members and friends. They have three children together, Patrick, Kenzel and Grace, and as of mid-2022, Paqui and Brian are still married.
In April 2022, it was announced that Brian signed a 10-year, $95 million worth contract with Louisiana State University, which makes him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football, and soon it was discovered that Brian bought a mansion in Baton Rouge, Louisiana – although the price wasn’t revealed, according to sources, the previous owners reportedly paid $1.8 million for the mansion in 2019, then before Brian bought it, it was fully renovated.
Breast cancer battles
Although her husband wins football games, Paqui is also a winner – she’s a two-time cancer survivor, and after her second battle, she and Brian established the Kelly Cares Foundation, which is focused on raising awareness of health through education and community work.
Paqui was diagnosed for the first time in December 2002; during a routine check-up, a mammogram showed a cyst in her left breast, thus her doctor advised her to return in six months, however, after a few weeks, Paqui felt lumps growing and returned to her physician, who then advised that she undergo a lumpectomy.
‘A lumpectomy promised an 80 percent cure rate in terms of the five-year marker, and a lumpectomy followed by radiation and chemotherapy increased the odds to 96 percent’, said Paqui, also adding that herself and Brian dealt with breast cancer as a game, and that they had a winning game plan.
However, since Paqui’s recovery odds were based upon her cancer having no genetic basis, the game changed after her older sister, Monie, was also diagnosed with breast cancer, and when Paqui dug into the family history of her parents, she discovered that her father had no female siblings alive, and that the most of them died in their 40s.
After the doctors confirmed that in Paqui’s case the disease was a product of a genetic mutation, she realized that this changed everything, and recalled how she felt, saying: ‘Just like that, the odds went from a 96 percent chance that cancer would not return, to those odds swinging completely the other way. You just never know.’
In 2007, Paqui was diagnosed a second time with breast cancer; her husband was devastated by her diagnosis, but he wasn’t the only one who suffered. Their children, especially the eldest one, Grace, who was then aged seven, openly voiced her concern, saying to Paqui that she had broken her promise that they weren’t going to have to do this again, that they were done with cancer.
In 2008, Paqui opted for a double mastectomy, and soon after she recovered started working with her foundation. At first the foundation had one or two events per year, but after Brian accepted the job at Notre Dame University, Kelly Cares Foundation grew considerably.
Paqui said that she is trying not to be a spokeswoman for breast cancer, but one for health in general, however, she mostly accepts invitations to speak about breast cancer and her battles with this disease, adding:
‘Breast cancer is 99 percent curable if it’s caught in stage one. If I had waited until I was 40 to have my mammogram, I might not be here today. That’s why it’s so important for me to share my story. To raise awareness. Denial is not a tool you can use.’
As of March 2022, this 55-years-old breast cancer fighter is healthy and enjoying her family – she can often be seen at the football stadium, supporting her husband.