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Fourteen-year-old Zaila Avant-garde makes Spelling Bee History

Superstar Zaila Avant-garde makes history as the first Black American to win 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee, but winning the spelling bee isn’t all she has accomplished

Fourteen-year-old Zaila Avant-garde makes Spelling Bee History
Zaila Avant garde
Scripps Spelling Bee

She loves basketball which she’s been playing since she was five years old.

Spelling is “a side project,” she told New Orleans-based

But on Thursday evening, it landed her back in the history books – again. 

Zaila, a 14-year-old from Harvey, La., became the first Black American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee in its 93-year history. She also won a $50,000 prize. The young Black princess won on the word “murraya” after just two years of practicing competitively.

“To finally have won a Scripps National Spelling Bee is just super exciting to me and amazing, because I’m going to get a trophy,” she said during an interview with Jay Harris on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

Zaila was congratulated on social media by celebrities, dignitaries, politicians, and athletes including Vice President Kamala Harris, President Barack Obama, and Los Angeles Laker LeBron  James.

The impressive win put Zaila – who has only competed in spelling bees for two years – back in the history books. She holds three Guinness world records for dribbling, bouncing, and juggling basketballs;  most basketballs dribbled simultaneously (six basketballs for 30 seconds); the most basketball bounces (307 bounces in 30 seconds); and the most bounce juggles in one minute (255 using four basketballs).

During the ESPN interview, she listed her career goals as an NBA basketball coach, work for NASA, work in neuroscience and gene editing. 

We’re sure she can do anything she sets her mind to. 

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Written By

Dorothy Gentry is the sports editor for the Texas Metro News.


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