For Zaila Avant-garde, Spelling Takes A Back Seat To Basketball
On Thursday, 14-year old Zaila Avant-garde spelled “Murraya” to become the first Black American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee. And this should make all of us sports parents feel better, she had a private coach. She typically practices approximately 13,000 words (per day) for spelling, which takes about seven hours. Not sure how this math adds up in one child’s day, but she calls it a ‘side pastime’ or “hors-d’oeuvres to her main course, basketball.”
Zaila is a basketball prodigy who aspires to play in the WNBA one day and attend Harvard University. She was also featured in a commercial alongside Golden Warriors basketball star Stephen Curry.
Oh, and did we mention she owns three basketball Guinness World Records for the most basketballs dribbled simultaneously(six basketballs for 30 seconds); the most basketball bounces (307 bounces in 30 seconds); as well as the most bounce juggles in one minute (255 using four basketballs). Check out her basketball mixtape. It’s mind-blowing.
Zaila, who just finished eighth grade in her hometown, Harvey, La., impressed her Dad when she was 10-years old and was able to spell nearly all the winning words going back to 1999.
“He was a bit surprised by that,” Zaila said in an interview before the finals.
Watching where and what Zaila does next will definitely keep us all on the edge of our seats for many years to come.