By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Local 14-year-old Isabella “Jiggy” Escribano is already a viral sensation, but will now get to showcase her basketball skills at the international level.
Escribano will play for the Mexico 15U team in the upcoming FIBA U15 Centrobasket games in Puerto Rico. She was the youngest to make the team at 13 years old at the time.
However, the teenager is much more than just a basketball player.
At her young age, Escribano has developed a major clothing brand, played under Kobe Bryant on “Team Mamba,” shot several major commercials/webisodes and worked with NBA legends — all before playing a minute of high school basketball.
Bryant taught Escribano more than she could have imagined, including the discipline to avoid getting frustrated after mistakes. Bryant would tell her, “Brick by brick, you aren’t going to build your house in one day.” Escribano has taken this, among other Bryant quotes, into all aspects of her life.
The brand “Break the Curse” is a WNBA-supporting brand that has been sparked in the WNBA recently leading to dozens of stars. The brand has also been sported by NBA players like Chris Paul and Jordan Clarkson. Escribano didn’t see a lot of options in the WNBA store for sporting some of her favorite athletes. She took it upon herself to create what she and unknowingly a ton of others desired most, making the brand a hit.
“We wanted to build something for people that love the WNBA,” said Escribano. “I really support and love the WNBA, but when I want to wear something from the WNBA, there’s only a certain amount of options, but for the NBA, there’s tons.”
Escribano’s latest release is the “We are BG” line, with apparel supporting getting incarcerated WNBA star Britney Griner home from Russia through the Phoenix Rescue Mission.
The young star is attempting to work with the WNBA in hopes to develop her line and expand WNBA merchandise.
Escribano started playing basketball five years ago. Her brother Marco Escribano, a former Golden Valley basketball standout, was the reason she got involved with the game.
Marco recalled his sister as never too interested in basketball and he typically saw her playing with toys in the stands during his games. However, one day Isabella saw how happy basketball made Marco and wanted that same feeling. Committed to the game, Marco took his sister to the park at 1 a.m. that night and her training began.
Marco has been amazed with his sister’s work ethic, saying she’s in the gym training usually twice a day while somehow staying on top of school work and a social life.
Isabella’s brother was most impressed when his sister was training with two boys doing wall-sits. Their trainer told them whoever can last the longest will make it to the NBA. Isabella was in tears from the pain but outlasted the boys in her wall-sit for over five minutes.
“Long story short, she didn’t quit and she won,” said Marco. “That’s when I knew she was gonna do everything in her power to make her dreams come true.”
Since then, Isabella has made viral videos showcasing her skills. One video was seen by Bryant and was part of why she was invited to play for the Laker legend.
Marco would still get to train with his sister while she played under Bryant, leading to hardworking games Bryant was known for, like “Who will leave the gym last?” Isabella and her brother would stay and put in as much extra work as they could while Bryant and his daughter Gigi worked on the opposite court.
“Obviously, he didn’t leave so we’d end up leaving,” said Marco. “But we tried our best.”
Isabella currently plays for the Creators, on the boys’ 14U AAU team under head coach Travis Divita.
“I’ve known Izzy for a long time, she’s been very skilled,” said Divita. “She’s been working on her individual skills for a long time. She came back to us because her skill was beyond her years but she wasn’t seeing the results in games.”
The head coach, like most, had plenty of praise for the point guard’s ability but says Isabella is an extremely coachable player.
Divita has played a great part in getting Isabella’s game to the next level, teaching her more of the X’s and O’s of the game.
“I want to be a player who can do it all,” said Isabella. “I want to be an Allen Iverson mixed with Sue Bird. I want to be Kyrie Irving with Steph Curry all mixed together.”
Isabella has idols she looks up to in the NBA and WNBA, but still acknowledged her biggest heroes.
“I have a lot of idols,” she said. “But I really look up to my parents. [I see] how hard they work for our family and just how they help us with everything we need. They’re my role models every day.”
While she’ll have the chance to compete at her highest level yet, the young star is most excited to see hundreds of girls playing the sport she loves.
The call-up to the Mexican national team has been on the Escribanos’ list since their early days of basketball. Isabella made a dream board she made for things she wished to accomplish and now can check off one more item as completed with plenty to go.
“For her, I don’t see how she’s not going to end up a Division 1 basketball player,” said Divita. “I don’t think there’s any ceiling for her.”
Isabella will gear up for the trip to Puerto Rico with her go-to “Sue Bird X Kyrie” kicks this week before games start up on June 26 in the FIBA U15 2022 Centrobasket games.
The teen star will get to show the world yet again all of her talent and skill acquired from hard work, AAU, Kobe Bryant and of course her brother, Marco.
“For me getting this opportunity, I don’t want to let [them] down,” said Isabella. “I want to give my all every day to Mexico. This is a big accomplishment to me and my dream board. I’m really excited.”