PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Aaliyah Guyton is a dual-citizen of the United States and Brazil, and her childhood was spent between the two countries.
Her father is AJ Guyton, the former Peoria High star, University of Indiana All-American and NBA Draft pick.
Her mother is Adriana Pinto Mafra, a professional basketball player from Brasil, who represented her country in four Olympic Games and played in the WNBA.
But since seventh grade, Peoria has been home for Aaliyah.
“I felt like it was better for me basketball-wise, especially because I want to go to college,” Guyton said. “College is here for me, so if I want to get to that, I have to stay here and work my butt off.”
Last summer, Aaliyah was selected for the Brazilian Under 16 national team that competed at the FIBA World Championships in Mexico. She helped Brazil to a fifth-place finish and saw her game grow exponentially.
“It was actually a very good experience for me, because I was able to see a whole other culture of basketball,” Guyton said. “I was able to see how basketball works in other countries, and it was just unbelievable, I really enjoyed it.”
When Aaliyah returned to Peoria for her sophomore season this winter, Lions coach Meechie Edwards says her improvements on and off the court were game-changing.
“It was just awesome cool. She came back and her mentality was totally different. She was playing with grown women,” Edwards said. “She came back and she wasn’t no longer 15, 16 years old. She was playing like she was 21.”
“The style is very different. Watching them, it was motivation like maybe I need to be more aggressive, maybe I need to be tougher on the court,” Guyton added. “It just all helped me in various different ways.”
Aaliyah Guyton doesn’t turn 16 until May of 2022. As a dual-citizen, once she turns 17, Guyton must decide which country she wishes to represent for the rest of her career at an international level: USA or Brazil.