UNITE: Jiggy Izzy
The 11-year-old basketball phenom keeps family at the center of her fast-rising stardom.
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Isabella “Jiggy Izzy” Escribano is a miracle; her family will be the first to tell you that. After just two years of playing basketball, she’s already trained with NBA greats, started a seven-year plan with Team Mamba and earned social media followers around the world. And though her rapid success gets attributed to her ball-handling talent and digital savviness, her familial support system has been just as crucial — whether taking her to practice or filming her routines. Her parents, her brother Marco, her manager Jeff and her videographer Eddie regularly broadcast her regimented training, which sometimes includes crossing over dudes three times her size.
Growing up in Canyon Country, California, Izzy would watch Marco, now age 22, playing basketball and admire his trophies. Marco had been an only child for over a decade, and the arrival of Izzy was not just miraculous but “a blessing,” according to their parents, Marco Sr. and Irma Escribano.
Izzy, at 10 years old, with her MVP trophy from an all-boys league (2018)
Marco left his own college basketball path to focus on coaching Izzy. One night in January 2017, he took her to their neighborhood park and started teaching the game. “When I made my first shot, Marco was so proud of me,” recalls Isabella, of an earlier memory, when she first picked up a basketball at eight years old. “It felt really good to play.”
Though Marco has been methodical about guiding Izzy, it hasn’t always been easy. “We literally had to start from scratch,” he remembers. They’d get kicked out of practice gyms around Los Angeles, especially after Izzy had a tough, no-scoring first season in an L.A. county community league. “Despite all of that, Izzy was so dedicated,” adds Marco. “When she came back from that so strong, it made me see this bigger vision for her life.”
The whole family, known as the “Jiggy Familia,” quickly got on board to support Marco and Izzy’s dream. “My mom would be out there playing defense,” recalls Marco. “People at the park must think we’re funny, because we all come out to help make her as good as she can get.” And it’s been working. In the second community league season, during one of the first games, Izzy bounced back with a down-the-road, pull-up jumper that stunned the crowd. “The moment I did that, I really fell in love with basketball,” she remembers. “It was the best feeling in the world, and I want to keep feeling like that.”
When Izzy’s not training with Daytwon Mayfield, she’s usually finishing up her homework or doing physical therapy. It’s all-basketball-everything. “Basketball is my best friend,” she explains. “When I need motivation, I just think about my brother and my family,” she adds.
It’s likely that Izzy’s “family first” mentality came from her mother, Irma, who says, “Without family, we’re nothing.” Izzy’s nickname and “stay jiggy” motto come from rap music and reflect her impressive pride, ambition and swagger. “I don’t want to be the next anybody,” says Izzy. “I want to show that you can be yourself. I’ll be the next Jiggy Izzy and the last Jiggy Izzy.”
Marco agrees. “She’s going to change the future of basketball,” he says. “You see it in how she plays, how hard she trains and how she gets better so fast. We’re all here because we believe. We make sure that she can focus on playing and enjoying basketball.” Despite the constant grind, Izzy makes time for friends’ birthday parties, in addition to reading books about basketball and watching pro tapes.
“The sacrifices and not getting to do all of the kid stuff — it’s all worth it, because we’re doing it as a family, for our family,” says Izzy. “We all make each other better. One day, we’re going to have a big house and look back on all these moments together.”
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