In April 2022, a Las Vegas high school basketball player, Aaliyah Gayles, who was ranked No. 8 in the nation by ESPN at the time was shot multiple times while attending a house party in North Las Vegas. Last month, nearly two years later, she finally started her collegiate career when she entered the game at the University of Southern California‘s victory over Florida Gulf Coast on Friday, Nov. 10.
The victory was a good one for USC but an even bigger one for Gayles. The former McDonald’s All-American was a senior at Spring Valley High School where she averaged 13.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.5 steals, and 3.3 assists when she was shot multiple times resulting in 18 bullet holes in her body on that fateful night.
She entered the game with 1:40 left in the game and received a much-deserved standing ovation.
“It felt good,” Gayles said to ESPN. “It boosted my confidence a little bit. I feel like I was back to my old self.”
ESPN reported that Gayles had recommitted to USC before she got shot. After USC basketball coach Mark Trakh retired last year, she rescinded her commitment. But she then recommitted to the Trojans under the current coach Lindsay Gottlieb.
After experiencing being shot multiple times and going through the process of getting her body back from the trauma and injuries she suffered, she had gotten back to being comfortable enough to pick up the sport she fell in love with. After arriving at USC last year, she took a seat on the bench as she continued to work towards realizing her dream of getting on the court to play for the Trojans.
Before this season started, the comfort level had been elevated.
“I am more, I would say, cautious about the things I do now,” Aaliyah said. “When I’m playing against contact, the way I explode up to the basket, I think about that more than what I used to. I could just explode and score. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m scared, but I think about it more than usual.”
When the season started in November, she was medically cleared and deemed eligible to play. The season started on Nov. 6 in her hometown of Las Vegas against Ohio State. Although she didn’t play, she had the support of her family and friends at that game.
“Her suiting up in a uniform is incredibly important,” Coach Gottlieb said. “Coming out and warming up, it is important to acknowledge. It is not her endpoint.”
The starting point took place on Friday, Nov. 10 with the future well ahead for Gayles.
Gayles scored her first point on Nov. 28.
AALIYAH GAYLES’ FIRST CAREER BUCKET!
📺: USC Live Stream pic.twitter.com/eFiYNtRPwi
— USC Women’s Basketball (@USCWBB) November 29, 2023
The achievement took place against Cal Poly in a game that USC won, 85-445
After Being Shot Multiple Times At A Las Vegas Party Last Year, Aaliyah Gayles Plays First Game For USC