How Aaliyah Nye feels support from Native American tribe after transfer to Alabama women's basketball

Maxwell Donaldson
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama women's basketball guard Aaliyah Nye is back in Alabama but she is still representing her Native American tribe back in Michigan.

Nye grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, but spent her summers in Michigan with her dad and with the Gun Lake Tribe of the Potawatomi Indians. She moved to Michigan for high school before spending the first two years of her college career at Illinois. Now she is back in Alabama and trying to help lead the Crimson Tide back to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.

The Crimson Tide (15-5, 4-3 SEC) is gearing up for the final month of the regular season, starting with South Carolina on Sunday (12 p.m. CT, ESPN 2). Nye is third on the team with 7.9 points a game while hitting 45% of her 3-point attempts, second on the team and 14th in the country.

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For Nye, spending summers with her tribal family gave her a unique perspective. The tribe is still supporting her and her family, even as they are states away in Alabama.

"I think it was special, it was different, not a lot of people can say that they are in a tribe and Native American. I thought it was really cool and I liked to learn about the history and my ancestors and they support me and my sisters in everything that we do," Nye said. "They're like a second family, they watch all my games, and they support me ... to have that support system behind me is amazing"

Nye grew up playing a variety of sports but basketball was the one that stuck with her. When she was younger she participated in the local tribes' Olympic-like competitions, including basketball. Now she feels that she can be a role model.

"I just hope my tribal members that are younger that look up to me and want to pursue this, that it doesn't matter what kind of background you have. You can do anything you put your mind to," Nye said. "I think it's cool to represent being a Native American in college athletics."

Being back in Alabama has allowed her to be back with her family. Her two sisters, including her twin, attend the University of Alabama and have been at most of the home games this season, along with her parents. Being able to spend more time with her family looks to be paying off for Nye in the eyes of coach Kristy Curry.

"She is so fun to coach, so fun to be around. I always say it's the person that makes the player and it is truly because she is such a tremendous human in all areas," Curry said. "...they're really a neat family, and it's obviously been good for her I think to be around her family more."