Even at just 14 years old, Zaila Avant-garde became arguably the most talented Scripps Spelling Bee champion after, well, winning the national spelling competition on Thursday. No, it's not only because she defeated all of her opponents in spelling-based combat, but also because she's pretty darn good at basketball.
Once the confetti began to fall, videos of her middle school highlights began circulating. Simply put, just like in spelling, her competition is no match for her.
Zaila Avant-garde the FIRST African-American to win the Scripps National #SpellingBee. 👸🏾🏆— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) July 9, 2021
She’s also really good at basketball and holds a Guinness World Record‼️
Here are some of her 🏀 highlights from middle school. #blackgirlmagic pic.twitter.com/W8E6QtqGTo
This clip actually undersells her skills with a basketball. Not only is Avant-garde a great player, she's a world record-holder. Her most recent Guinness World Record is for most basketballs dribbled simultaneously, something she achieved by dribbling six basketballs for at least 30 straight seconds. It was a record that stood for 21 years that now belongs to her.
Additionally, she holds records for most basketball bounces (307 in 30 seconds) and the most bounce juggles in one minute (255 using four basketballs). Between all of the accolades, which includes a 2018 appearance in a Steph Curry commercial, and the name of her Instagram account, it's clear that spelling is just something she happens to excel at, while basketball is where her passions truly lie.
"Basketball, I'm not just playing it. I'm really trying to go somewhere with it. Basketball is what I do," Zaila told the Associated Press on Thursday. "Spelling is really a side thing I do. It's like a little hors d'ouevre. But basketball's like the main dish."