She’s putting in 30 hours per week and hoping to become the first woman to play in the NBA.
At only 8 years old, Jaliyah Manuel has been wowing audiences on social media with her insane basketball talents for over two years. She’s using her platform to share her singular goal with the world — she wants to be the first woman to play in the NBA.
Though her Instagram account (brimming with spectacular feats) is run by her parents, it’s Jaliyah whose pushing herself to greatness every day. The straight-A student from Belle Chasse, Louisiana, insists that she’s not even allowed to practice unless her grades are up to the standards of her parents. Speaking to USA Today, the phenom shared, "If I don't make good grades, I don't practice. If I do make good grades, then I do practice."
Videos such as the one below show a mastery of ball handling agility that few high schoolers possess.
However, her holistic training extends to plyometrics and strength training, as Jaliyah boasts a 30-inch vertical leap and enough endurance to seemingly run circles around any poor soul tasked with defending her.
Her enthusiasm for the sport, in tandem with her demonstrated physical gifts, has led her to develop her own drills that are being re-taught by coaches for older players. "I'm having professional trainers tell me they're using her drills,” said Jovan Manuel, her father.
Jaliyah has garnered celebrity at a young age, and her SportsCenter appearance has led to autograph requests. The autographs were a tricky proposition when she was too young to know how to sign her name, but she quickly mastered that skill as well.
“I even know how to sign my name in cursive so I can sign it, like a basketball player," she said.
The road to high school and college, let alone the NBA, remains a long and uncertain one for Jaliyah, but it’s clear that she takes the journey quite seriously.
And if she doesn’t make it? Well, she’s an 8-year-old with a backup plan. Despite having already garnered interest from prep schools and University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball program, if this whole thing doesn’t work out, Jaliyah hopes to be a doctor or nurse.