Edwards' hometown was Walstonburg, North Carolina. He attended Greene Central High School, in Snow Hill, North Carolina. He started his college career at Louisburg College in Louisburg, North Carolina where he played from 1984 to 1986. Louisburg College participates in Region X of the NJCAA. He also played for East Carolina University in 1986–87 and 1988–89. In 1988–89 Edwards recorded the most Points in a single season for ECU (773) and finished sixth in the nation in scoring (26.7). Edwards also led the Colonial Athletic Association in scoring (26.7) and steals per game (1.6). Edwards recorded the second highest career scoring average (20.7) of any player to ever play at East Carolina. Edwards was suspended for the entire 1987–88 season along with several other people after being found guilty of breaking and entering. In 1994 Edwards was selected to be a member of the East Carolina University Athletics Hall of Fame.
He was selected by the Utah Jazz with the 21st overall pick of the 1989 NBA draft out of East Carolina University and was a member of the 1990 NBA All-Rookie 2nd team.
He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in 1992 and tied for scoring with Frank Brickowski for the Milwaukee Bucks during the 1992–93 season with 16.9 points per game (although at 16.85, Edwards' average was slightly lower than Brickowski's 16.89).
He recorded the first triple-double in the history of the Vancouver Grizzlies (also his first) on March 1, 1996, against the Dallas Mavericks with 15 points, 13 Rebounds and 11 assists. In the Grizzlies' first season, he ranked fourth overall in points per game (12.7).
Edwards was a quality player, and won several games with last-second shots, including a game winning bucket against the Minnesota Timberwolves that ended the Grizzlies' 23-game losing streak. The shot prevented the Grizzlies from tying the National Basketball Association record for most consecutive losses. He also hit a last-second game winning shot against the Philadelphia 76ers. He was also the only Grizzly to play and start all 82 games.
Due to Edwards' dunking ability, he was invited to the 1990 NBA Slam Dunk Contest in which he did not take part due to injury, and was replaced by David Benoit. However, he did take part in the 1991 event, placing 6th. Edwards wore number 30 throughout his career until he moved to the Miami Heat where he wore 32 as 30 was in use by Terry Porter.
After his NBA career, Edwards played overseas.
At the end of 2001, Edwards was involved in a highly publicized child custody case in Canada. While playing for the Vancouver Grizzlies in the spring of 1996, Edwards, who was married, started an affair with Canadian citizen Kimberly Van de Perre. He had at least two other affairs. During the affair with Kimberly, she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy named Elijah, in June 1997. When Elijah was three months old, Ms. Van de Perre began proceedings for custody and child support, naming Edwards as the father of the child. Edwards responded initially by seeking joint custody and liberal access, but later changed his response to seek sole custody.
After a lengthy trial that ran from the fall of 1998 to early 1999, the trial judge released his decision and awarded sole custody to the mother. Edwards was given considerable access — four one-week periods quarterly throughout the year, shared time at Christmas and on Elijah's birthday and additional access upon short notice when he was in Vancouver. Edwards appealed this decision.
During the hearing at the British Columbia Court of Appeal, the Court invited Mrs. Edwards to apply to be admitted as a party and to request joint custody of Elijah with her husband. Mrs. Edwards is also an African American. This new, joint application for custody was successful, and Elijah was placed in the custody of Edwards and his wife.
The Court of Appeals' decision was stayed to allow the mother the opportunity to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, with the result that Elijah remained primarily in his mother's care throughout these proceedings. In 2001 the Supreme Court of Canada restored the trial decision and awarded custody to Elijah's mother; the Court concluded that in this case there was no evidence introduced that race should be "an important consideration". After the Supreme Court affirmed that the mother should have sole custody, the father ceased visiting and paying child support.
In 2009, the Canadian Television Network produced and aired a made-for-TV movie based on the custody battle story entitled "Playing for Keeps", which is released in the US under the title "What Color Is Love?".