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In #BlackGirlMagic news…

2021 ESPY Awards - Arrivals

Source: Michael Loccisano / Getty

A basketball prodigy and Scripps spelling bee champ recently caught the attention of a University President.

Zaila Avant-garde, 14, of course, made history when she became the first African American contestant to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Now Lousiana State University President William F. Tate IV is offering the Harvey, Louisiana teen a full ride to his institution.

Obviously proud of Zaila, President Tate tweeted that she “performed at the highest level in the National Spelling Bee” and added that he was impressed by her intellectual excellence. With that, he offered her a full scholarship.

“Your academic performance reflected scholarship first! You modeled intellectual excellence,” he tweeted. “@LSU_Honors awaits. I write to offer you a full scholarship to attend LSU. Here for you!”

Not only has Zaila garnered the attention of LSU’s President, but NASA tweeted the teen and told her that they “hope she’ll join them one day”…

and Lebron James and President Barack Obama offered their congrats to the teen who broke THREE Guinness World Records. In case you didn’t know, Zaila holds the records for most bounces of four basketballs in 30 seconds, most basketballs dribbled at one time and most bounce juggles in one minute, using four basketballs.

Zaila also attended the 2021 ESPYS where she was praised by host Anthony Mackie who congratulated his fellow Louisianan and called New Orleans Saint Drew Bees “old news.”

“This kid can do anything,” said Mackie. “She can hit a stepback like Luka Donic and then spell Luka Donic right the first time.”


Zaila also told PEOPLE that she was still in awe of her spelling bee win.

“I’m feeling pretty good. I still can’t quite believe that I won Scripps National Spelling Bee, so I’m still waiting for that to settle in,” she said on the red carpet. “So I guess my weekend is gonna get even more exciting when I realize.”

Congrats, Zaila!


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