Zaila, 14, an eighth grader from near New Orleans, had just won the 93rd Scripps National Spelling Bee, becoming the first Black American student to take the cup after 10 other finalists stumbled in the competition’s final rounds.
It was a remarkable achievement for a girl who only began spelling competitively two years ago. Not only did she dissect word after word on spelling’s biggest stage, she had already set three Guinness world records for dribbling, bouncing and juggling basketballs. All before the ninth grade.
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