Aaliyah Edwards Has to Wear a Mask in Games Following Some Difficult Injuries

"The only issue I had was my peripheral vision, but I got better adjusting to it," Aaliyah Edwards explained.

Alex West - Author

Jun. 14 2024, Published 8:16 a.m. ET

Aaliyah Edwards #24 of the Washington Mystics looks on against the Atlanta Dream at Gateway Center Arena
Source: Getty Images

UConn women's basketball alum and Washington Mystics rookie Aaliyah Edwards is known for her incredible gameplay. She has become one of the most-watched female athletes in sports. However, it isn't just her play style that people notice, but also how she wears a mask during games.

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It isn't common to see a player on the court covering their face as often as Aaliyah. Most fans don't even know why she's wearing a mask, though, and the history of her injuries.

 Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever handles the ball against Aaliyah Edwards #24 of the Washington Mystics
Source: Getty Images
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Why does Aaliyah Edwards wear a mask?

Aaliyah's distinctive face mask gives her an extra level of protection. She took a rough hit which broke her nose during the 2022–2023 preseason. As a result, she needed to wear it to keep her face safe.

"It was a love-hate relationship at first, but we got used to each other," Aaliyah told The Kingston Whig-Standard. "The only issue I had was my peripheral vision, but I got better adjusting to it. I’m getting nose surgery soon, so I’ll be back without it."

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She managed to ditch the mask for quite some time in the following season, but it didn't last. She was dealt an elbow hit during the quarterfinal of the Big East Tournament, pushing her to the floor. Aaliyah was then forced to start using the mask again.

She told CT Insider, “It's like déjà vu, here we go again. I love it. I love it. I love it just because it's kind of like my thing, how I kind of impacted the game, but it's also like kind of showing the haters to not take us lightly.”

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Cameron Brink #22 of the Los Angeles Sparks and Aaliyah Edwards #24 of the Washington Mystics
Source: Getty Images

As a result of the resurrected injury, Aaliyah needed to wear the mask for the rest of the post-season, but she said it won't affect her moving forward since she is now more acquainted with it.

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"I'm not going to let it distract me or anything like that. I'm still the same player, same teammate. Just going to do what we do best, which is win and go out there and put out for UConn," she added.

Why does Aaliyah Edwards have purple and yellow hair?

In addition to the mask, Aaliyah is recognizable by her unique hair, too. She keeps her locks in braids, colored purple and yellow. The defining colors are a sweet tribute to one of her idols.

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Aaliyah "wears purple and yellow braids to pay homage to the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant," according to her UConn profile. The nod to the late basketball player comes after his 2020 death.

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Kobe died unexpectedly and rocked the entire sports world. Both himself and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash in California.

His impact on basketball remains undeniable as he became a staple teammate on the Los Angeles Lakers. He had immense talent and debuted as the second-youngest player in NBA history. Many young athletes took inspiration from him as they paved their own paths in athletics, including Aaliyah.

The WNBA star explained to ESPN that she would "watch Kobe film" to relax. She said, "We'd do stuff that would take my mind off basketball, a reward for putting in the work, [so it's not] 24/8 — sorry, 24/7. Got 24 and 8 in my head."

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