Aaliyah Gayles is mounting an improbable comeback to the sport of basketball mere months after being shot 10 times in her arms and legs.
She was cleared this month by doctors to return to the court after an April shooting at a North Las Vegas house party.
The USC recruit, ranked eighth in the class of 2022 by ESPN, received support from the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, who helped to pay for some of Gayles’ medical bills.
“We’re gonna send our prayers and our thoughts, and we donated financially but obviously you know we’re here in any way we can support,” Dearica Hamby told FOX5 back in April.
“Vegas is a tight basketball community so she’s like family,” she continued. “Hopefully she continues to stay strong and continues to hold her head high.”
Gayles credits the Aces’ run to the WNBA title in inspiring her through her recovery.
Aaliyah Gayles, a Las Vegas teen basketball player who was shot 10 times, says she's able to hit the court again. @MaddieWhiteTV shares more.https://t.co/j5s2Zowmlq pic.twitter.com/kfG7GF9FMS— FOX5 Las Vegas (@FOX5Vegas) September 20, 2022
Aaliyah Gayles, a Las Vegas teen basketball player who was shot 10 times, says she's able to hit the court again. @MaddieWhiteTV shares more.https://t.co/j5s2Zowmlq pic.twitter.com/kfG7GF9FMS
“Man… I was so happy,” Gayles said of the team’s first championship. “That’s the hometown. That’s the hometown, so you know it’s always gonna be stuck in my heart for real… I was so happy, like, it’s honestly like the best feeling just coming out of Vegas and they get this win!?”
Gayles will redshirt at USC this year, but she’s regaining strength and her bones have healed. Watching the Aces’ success helped her stay motivated.
“It opened my eyes, cause this is what I’m trying to do at USC also,” said Gayles. “I’m a redshirt this year just so I can have a little time to get back stronger.
“If they can do it, then I can do it for sure. So I’m just very appreciative, because that is support and love that I’m getting, and it’s just like, ‘Hey I can’t give up now, cause look how many people are watching me!’”