Zaila Avant-garde has made history by becoming the first African-American to win the National Scripps Spelling Bee. Yet, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to this phenomenal young lady. Zaila Avant-grade is also a basketball prodigy!


Before she became the National Spelling Bee champion, Avant-garde was already a three-time Guinness World Record title for most bounce juggles in one minute.

The Harvey, LA native started playing basketball at a young age.

“Basketball, I’m not just playing it. I’m really trying to go somewhere with it. Basketball is what I do,” Zaila said in an interview with “Spelling is really a side thing I do. It’s like a little hors d’ouevre. But basketball’s like the main dish.”

 In addition to her Guinness World Record titles, her skills also earned her an appearance alongside Stephen Curry in a shoe commercial and an opportunity to perform on court with the world renowned Harlem Globetrotters.

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Zaila does not just do cool viral stunts. She is also an integral part of a real life basketball team, using her skills as a point guard, with a reel of impressive plays, Zaila has impressed even the most seasoned veterans.

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After high school, Zaila has her sights set on Harvard. And then, of course, the talented teen would like to possibly play and/or coaching professionally for the WNBA one day, that is, if she isn’t already working for NASA.

“I hope to one day make it all the way to the WNBA. Dribbling is just one part of my overall basketball skillset,” the teen told

With her incredible journey and win, Zaila immediately added thousands of new followers to her personal Instagram account, which now boasts 43.9K followers. When asked about being a role model, the humble teen told, “I think the more the achievements and triumphs of women are promoted and publicized, the more likely it is that little girls around the world will see that they can do any and everything they put their minds to.”

Congratulations, Zaila. You truly are an inspiration. We cannot wait to see just how the journey continues.

Tiffany Silva

Tiffany Silva

Writer and Editor

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