Aaron Liberman, a former high school basketball star and current walk-on at Northwestern University, was recently spotted in an Under Armour branded kippah. The unique visual of the religious headgear serving as a marketing platform inspired a tweet from ESPN reporter Darren Rovell.
Liberman, who stands a remarkable six feet and nine inches tall, gained notoriety in high school when he led Valley Torah (a small religious high school with a student body of 86) to victory in the the CIF Southern Section championship in 2011. In high school, he was ranked fifth nationally for blocked shots, in no small part due to his uncharacteristically Jewish frame.
Liberman struggled to find a college where he could combine basketball and religious observance, as many college basketball games are scheduled during Shabbat. He chose to use his basketball abilities to get into “an academic school, not a basketball school.”
Liberman has missed much of the current season because of shin splints, but his sartorial choices have drawn attention from ESPN, which pointed out that he the only player in Division I basketball to wear a kippah since Tamir Goodman, the “Jewish Jordan,” back in 2000. Liberman also intends to be the first Division I player to wear tzitzit fringes which he will tuck into his basketball shorts. “Everyone here has been great toward me, and nobody’s said anything about the yarmulke,” he told ESPN. “Everyone’s cool with it. They just see me as one of the guys.” Northwestern will provide him with two kippot, matching the team colors for both home and away games.