At this point, there's a good chance you’ve seen stories about Zaila Avant-Garde, the 14-year-old girl who the other day won this year’s Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee and wat the first African-American to do so. You may have also read about some of her other talents, like that she’s in the Guinness Book of Records three times. More about that in a moment -- and more, because I want to present her in a little more in-depth way than the coverage she's gotten. Because, as you'll see, she deservies it.
First though, let’s see her win the contest that got all the attention.
What you may have read about her Guinness world records is that they were for her skills dribbling a basketball. But while that’s certainly very impressive, it also sort of gives the suggestion of a solitary skill, another “geek” thing she can do by herself alone in her room like spelling. But the thing is, dribbling a basketball is a part of…well, actually basketball. And she’s really good in it. And by “good” I mean absolutely wonderful. Her ball control and physicality is tremendous.
And so, instead of jumping right to her dribbling, I first wanted to show a video of her playing basketball,. Though here's the thing -- as tremendous as the video is, it doesn’t do her justice. That’s because it mostly shows her dribbling and driving with the ball, not making many long, three-point shots. I did find a video of that, her shooting bombs from all over the court, but that’s all it was, her alone shooting three-pointers, and I thought a video of her playing actual basketball showed her skill far, far, far better – especially since it does includes some three-point shots about halfway through, made (not alone on court during her own relaxed time, but) during competition with opposing players guarding her after she’s been running around the court. And another reason this video doesn’t do her justice is that, as truly impressive as she is here…it's from three years ago, and she’s only 11 years old!
And trust me, you ain’t see nothing yet.
Because here it is. Here she is dribbling and juggling basketballs, what she got her three Guinness Book of World Records for. There are several videos of her doing other tricks beyond just these. This is merely just one of many. I’m not going to say anything more about the specifics you're about to see, this since it not only speaks loudly for itself, it shouts it from the rafters. And it’s not repetitious, her skills just keep getting better and better as the video progresses – and they’re jaw-dropping amazing from the first. And no, I’m not exaggerating. And no, too, there are no special effects here, this is all Zaila Avant-Garde. In real time.
And remember, as she was painstakingly teaching herself this unearthly skill, she was training to become the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee champion.
There are probably more "Oh, my God" moments here than in most tent revival meetings.
Yeah, between that and her regularly basketball, not too shabby for a Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee winner.
I thought I’d end with arguably the best video of all. Her being herself, interviewed on the Today Show. Showing why she can likely do whatever she wants to in the future. And probably will.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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