Zaila Vanguard, the 14-year-old who was dubbed “America’s Spelling Sweetheart” on Jimmy Kimmel livemade an appearance to show off his spelling and basketball skills on Wednesday.
The Harvey, Louisiana prodigy “has appeared in an advertisement with Stephen Curry and holds three Guinness World Records for dribbling multiple balls simultaneously,” Nola.com reports.
National Spelling Champion Zaila Vanguard continues to impress with her spelling and basketball skills on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ pic.twitter.com/0nbmflakLO
— Melissa Knowles (@Knowlesitall) July 15, 2021
Visiting Jimmy Kimmel live, Zaila played a game called BEE BALL while guest host and comedian Phoebe Robinson interviewed and challenged the winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Before the ball action started, Zaila explained that she had been working on her basketball dribbling skills since she was five years old.
“I had plenty of time to progress to this level,” Zalia told Robinson.
Then Zaila played BEE BALL without breaking a sweat. She first dribbled and spelled “Machiavellian” while dribbling three yellow, green and red balls. Next, Zaila was challenged to spell “amaryllis” while dribbling a six. The latest challenge involved a special guest – Bill Murray – who is the acclaimed actor and comedian she mentioned to the judges before spelling out the winning word, “Murraya”.
“Oh, like Bill Murray,” she asked the judges.
Murray playfully tried to trick the spelling champion by asking her to spell the word “suitcase” as she dribbled three balls and swung on a foam roller. Zalia pulled off the incredible feat in front of the home crowd, proving her athletic skills are fully intact.
At the end of the segment, Zalia caught a full scholarship to the Sports Academy, which would be a training complex. It was ‘co-founded by the late Kobe Bryant’, according to People.
Zaila takes basketball seriously, and it shows.
“Basketball, I don’t just play. I’m really trying to get somewhere with this. Basketball is what I do,” Zaila said in the AP article. “Spelling is really a secondary thing that I do. It’s like a little appetizer. But basketball is like the main course.
And it’s such a coincidence that Zaila mentioned Bill Murray when spelling the word Murraya and Murray starred in the 1997 original space jam basketball movie, and Zaila is the sports pro.
See Zaila on Kimmel’s show, by click here.