In July 2021, Zaila Avant-garde made history as the first Black American winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and the first Black winner since Jamaican teen Jody-Anne Maxwell in 1998. In correctly spelling “murraya” — a type of tropical tree — in the 18th round of the final, the Louisiana eighth-grader emerged from a field of 208 other competitors to claim the title of champion.
In addition to highlighting this remarkable achievement, several news reports and social media posts pointed to the 14-year-old’s other superlatives and accomplishments, claiming that she also holds three Guinness World Records for dribbling basketballs.
Those claims were entirely true. As of July 9, 2021, Avant-garde holds the world record for:
- The most bounces of four basketballs in 30 seconds (307) — set in New Orleans on Nov. 14, 2019
- The most basketballs dribbled at one time (six) — set in Westwego, Louisiana, on Jan. 26, 2021 (equalling Joseph Odhiambo’s August 2000 record)
- The most bounce juggles in one minute, using four basketballs (255) — set in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Nov. 2, 2020
On Nov. 14, 2019, Avant-garde also set the world record for the most bounce juggles in one minute, using three basketballs (231), but that record was surpassed in August 2020 by Hungarian Tamás Felföldi, who completed 233.
Therefore, according to the official source — the Guinness World Records website — Avant-garde held three separate world records concurrently as of July 9, 2021, and has held a total of four records, at various times, since November 2019, breaking her first record at the age of 13.
Videos of Avant-garde’s extraordinary basketball skills, as well as her spelling bee accomplishments, can be found on her Instagram profile, and in the Guinness World Records feature video, below: