Equipped with nails and lashes, the resilient New York Liberty Player talks about bringing the hardest game she can.
Every fly girl in New York City should keep their eyes on DiDi Richards, who just completed her second year as a guard for the Liberty. Richards balances the regular craziness of being a “baddie” in the city with her rising basketball career, where she’s experienced multiple injuries with devastatingly long recovery times. Although fans of the player with a “Power Puffs” hairstyle anticipated her second season, Richards’ courtside presence provided a unique introduction to the player– while closely studying her team’s moves, she debuted a number of colorful, chic outfits. Once Richards recovered from a hamstring injury in June, she could be spotted running up and down the court with her signature curly hair, long lashes, and manicured nails.
After practice with the New York Liberty, Richards chatted with me over Zoom in the team’s locker room. Wiping her sweat with a towel in between answers, I was impressed by her ‘Energizer Bunny’ personality and how naturally bubbly Richards really is. To get acquainted, I compliment Richards on her impressive pre-game outfits, which are frequently featured by LeagueFits and GQ Sports, and she shouts out her stylist Sydney Bordonaro. Collaborating on looks like Richards’ courtside magenta necktie, Richards’ sports star image is a crossover between being a serious, resilient athlete and being a contemporary hot girl. Apart from the constant upkeep of fly nails and lashes, I’m excited to learn about how Richards manages to be the hardest player that she can and look good while doing it.
If hot girls are into manifesting, Richards’ career is marked by a number of early achievements with goals that she always had. When we spoke in June, I asked her about her dream brands to work with, and Richards mentioned that she wants to walk in a fashion show. Similar to how she knew she’d get drafted, Richards tells me about walking Dur Doux’s NYFW Runway when we meet again in the off-season. “It was a lot going on, where it was something I wasn’t good at, and it was a humbling experience for me,” says Richards, “It was mind-boggling how hard and talented the girls are that walk and model all the time. It’s a different kind of space, and I hope that I can perfect it one day, but it was crazy and a dream come true, honestly.”
Although it’s early in her career to consider the legacy she’s building in the W, Richards says that “I’m trying to continue to push the ‘diva’ side of the game; you can be beautiful and have nails lashes, and still be a hard player on the court. Like somebody that’s gonna get down and guard. Second to that is resiliency, somebody that’s still gonna pop back up and be able to fight through it all. I want my legacy to stand on me being resilient in every aspect of life.” Catching up with Richards during the season in June and in a brief meeting in November, this interview goes beyond the bright smile of her photos to learn about the player’s inner heat.
Kirsten Chen: Tell me about some of your on-court beauty essentials.
DiDi Richards: A must is lip gloss, like always. I used to do a full face of makeup, but my skin has decided to hate me. So I’ve fallen back on it this season; I felt like it was because I was sweating while also wearing makeup. Now, I have my eyebrows as bushy as ever, lashes and gloss in games, and I feel like that is my secret weapon this year.
KC: Are the nails hard to play with?
DR: Absolutely not. When people say that, I don’t understand why it would be; it’s connected to your fingers. Once, I was dribbling a ball at Baylor, and they had a picture of me dribbling, and my mom zoomed in. She was like, ‘If you’re gonna play this game, can you at least be cute? Can you keep your edges down? Can you keep your nails done?’ And I’m like, ‘You’re so right, mom.’ It was a point in life when I felt like you couldn’t be cute, like you had to be just a ball player, and it’s not that.
KC: Tell me a little bit about your hot girl mentality. What is it fueled by?
DR: It’s definitely fueled by my mom, my grandma. She’s like, ‘DiDi, and you’re not gonna have this body forever.’ And I’m like, ‘I know.’ She’s like, ‘So, show it off.” So between my memaw and my mom, which is my mom’s mom, this is why I act like this. I think it’s a generational thing that I will continue to put into young women and my daughter.
There’s no underlying deeper meaning. That’s just who I am, and that’s just how I’m going to be. I’m going to be me 24/7. I think that’s the problem, that people think that I’m doing it for a reason. I’m just doing it because it’s me. So if that’s a problem, then you have a problem with me, and I could care less is how I look at it, you know?
KC: Are there any common misconceptions about you in the media?
DR: I think that one of the biggest things is that people think I’m not focused because I have a bit of everything on my shoulders: modeling, basketball, NFTs… then, my head in fashion. People think that I’m never focused on the task at hand, which is basketball, but that’s my life. My main focus is basketball, regardless of what I’m doing. If I’m in season, if I’m not in season, I’m working out. I don’t have to post me working out. People know I play basketball; what must I post that for? I think that’s my biggest thing with the world and how they kind of look at me.
KC: Do you think that people’s perception of the WNBA has changed since you were a kid?
DR: Even my perception has changed. You know, when you’re in elementary or middle school, people come to speak to you in P.E. class. I remember Lisa Leslie came to our elementary, and I didn’t know who it was, and I played basketball. Now, I’m that player that’s going to elementary schools and kids. But they’re wearing jerseys, and they know the game. Now, it’s being watched on tv, and it’s being supported. It’s very humbling to walk into an elementary school, and they kind of know you already.
KC: Prior to joining Liberty, you underwent a lengthy recovery from your leg injury. I heard humor helped you get through that process… Are you a funny person? What’s your team’s reputation?
DR: Probably annoying, honestly. I’m like that little sister that you didn’t ask for, but you got cute. But, I take to do a different outlook on recovering and getting through an injury. Because me being down, I’m freaking out. Then you come here, and you’re around people that are generally rooting for you. It’s easy to have that outlook when I’m smiling, laughing, or whatever because they’re always there. They’re always looking at me and, you know, supporting me.
KC: When you’re off the court, what kinds of things do you do at home?
DR: I super like to be around people. I’m a people person, and I’m on the phone with my mom all the time—FaceTimes from 7:00 AM to midnight. I’m always with somebody, so I tend to go shopping. I’m a foodie– Mic and I like to eat. We’re on TikTok trying to figure out what restaurant is popping, and then we go taste it.
KC: If you had more time, how would you spend it?
DR: If I had more time, I know that people are gonna hate me for this answer, but I’m gonna say it. I think I would spend it on social media. There’s so much money in social media, and like I’m not– yes, I am chasing money. I’m chasing the dollar. If I gotta get to the bag in social media, that’s easy. If I could actually spend time on them, you guys, I would blow up Instagram.
KC: Do you have a vision for what kind of style you want to cultivate this season?
DR: Honestly, I feel like I’m more so set on versatility, like being able to dibble and dabble down on every kind of fashion world. Whether that be bohemian, edgy, or everything, I feel like my signature right now is a crop top, so whatever I have is gonna have a crop top included.
KC: Many of your tattoos have been shown in your pre-game outfits and in your Sports Illustrated shoot. Do you have any favorite tattoos?
DR: I have three favorites right now, and it’s the one on my leg that everyone always sees, and it says, ‘Be the woman you needed as a girl in Arabic. And then the one here says, ‘I am enough on my wrist, and the one on the back of my elbow, my yin yang sign. Because that’s like my symbol, that’s me.
KC: What’s your secret to staying hot during the off-season?
DR: Honestly, eat what you want to eat, get the right gains, because if you know me, I’m an itty bitty, so I’m just trying to get gains, get bigger. I feel like that’s the thing, to stay in the gym, and that’s what I’m going to do.
WNBA reporter Kirsten Chen writes a lifestyle & fashion column on WNBA.com throughout the season and can be reached on Twitter through @hotgothwriter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.