Gifted Scholar Athletes of America was not always an organization based at an expansive gymnasium with hundreds of attendees; Laone Taylor, co-founder with husband James Taylor, or Coach James, said the business has come a long way since its humble start in 2016.

“We actually started off at the Pearland Independence Park with five kids,” Laone said.

Now, GSA, with almost 250 kids playing basketball, hosts daily practice, tournaments and other events that bring children from across the country, including teams traveling from other cities in Texas, Arkansas and Georgia. Laone said a seventh-grade team on April 6 traveled to Anaheim, California, for a competition.

Laone, who grew up in Botswana and is the chief operating officer for GSA, said hard work and sacrifice brought the business to where it is today. GSA moved operations into a new location in 2021 when the owner of a struggling fish processing plant gave Laone and James the space to be repurposed as a basketball facility.

The space, called Ankle Breaker Gym, got its name from Laone’s son, in reference to a move in basketball where a player outmaneuvers another, breaking through a defensive line or causing a defending player to briefly lose their balance.

“My son was like, ‘The competition is going to be so high that we’re going to be breaking their ankles!’” Laone said.

GSA currently hosts 19 different basketball teams across a variety of ages, mainly elementary school-age children.

Laone said she hopes participating kids do not lose sight of their education goals. The organization offers tutoring and mentoring services in various subjects on top of the collaborative basketball programs.

“For us, it is bigger than basketball,” Laone said. “It’s also about molding that character ... We want them to be the next leaders when they are done with us.”

Gifted Scholar Athletes of America Summer Camp

GSA offers a series of summer camps at the Ankle Breaker Gym. Registration is available on the organization’s official website.

Dates: June 5-July 28

Time: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.

Cost: $150

Gifted Scholar Athletes of America

14724 Almeda School Drive, Houston


Hours: 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily