Colorado’s 7-year-old Ninja War­rior

Ly­lah MacCall ap­pears on NBC’s “Lit­tle Big Shots”

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By John Wen­zel

Nerves of steel. Heart of a lion. Hands and feet of a kin­der­gart­ner.

Ly­lah MacCall has been con­quer­ing “Amer­i­can Ninja War­rior”-style cour­ses in her North­glenn home since 2015, when dad Gavin first posted a video of a home­made ob­sta­cle course he built for her.

“I started jump­ing around on the couches and chairs like they do on the show, (which was) the very first time,” Ly­lah said over the phone. “Af­ter that, my dad just started build­ing.”

“I’ve al­ways been handy as far as putting things to­gether, so it wasn’t re­ally dif­fi­cult,” Gavin, 41, added. “It just takes time.”

The ini­tial video of Ly­lah balancing on 2x4s, scal­ing easy chairs and crawl­ing through duct-taped tires racked up 700,000 views and at­tracted pos­i­tive com­ments from as far away as Japan — the orig­i­nal home of the Ninja War­rior con­cept, which pre­dated the pop­u­lar NBC se­ries.

In Septem­ber 2016, Gavin filmed Ly­lah nav­i­gat­ing a new course in their nearly 3,000square-foot back­yard, com­plete with a zip line that flew over an au­di­ence of stuffed an­i­mals.

That gar­nered more than ten times the traf­fic of the first one (now sit­ting at 111 mil­lion views) and more in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion.

Sub­se­quent videos on Ly­lah’s 96,000-sub­scriber YouTube chan­nel have also gen­er­ated tens of mil­lions of views, and an im­promptu Go­FundMe cam­paign from her dad raised more than $1,000 to build new and bet­ter ob­sta­cles.

So where does a lit­tle Ninja War­rior go from there?

Up, of course.

On June 14, Ly­lah will make her debut on Sea­son 3 of NBC’s “Lit­tle Big Shots,” hosted by Steve Har­vey. She taped the ap­pear­ance late last year in Los An­ge­les and is ex­cited to fi­nally see it air. It’s a big week for Ly­lah, hav­ing also cel­e­brated her sev­enth birth­day on June 11.

“When we were at the ho­tel, there was a pool and a ten­nis court on the roof,” Ly­lah re­mem­bered of her L.A. trip. “I learned how to do ten­nis!”

“I have to ad­mit, that was pretty cool,” Gavin said.

On “Lit­tle Big Shots” this week, Ly­lah will demon­strate her skills on a cus­tom-built course with a Hol­ly­wood theme, fea­tur­ing el­e­ments bor­rowed from the of­fi­cial “Amer­i­can Ninja War­rior” com­pe­ti­tion course. In the lead-up to the seg­ment, Ly­lah also ap­peared last month on Har­vey’s day­time talk show, where she burst onto the stage in a heroic red cape and Amer­i­can flag-pat­terned skirt and tights.

“This sea­son I’ve met a lot of young, fierce girls who are are kick­ing butt and break­ing down some gen­der walls,” Har­vey said be­fore invit­ing Ly­lah out. “The next young lady is no ex­cep­tion, folks.”

“I think it’s re­ally cool,” Ly­lah said of her new­found mini-star­dom, with dad adding that she signs “tons of au­to­graphs” when they’re at Ninja War­rior events.

Ly­lah has hosted Ninja War­rior stars at her house, just off 104th Av­enue in North­glenn, and filmed videos in gyms and train­ing parks around the coun­try with Ninja War­rior fan-fa­vorites such as Jessie Graff and Flip Ro­driguez.

“I do gym­nas­tics and I do hang­ing things from the ceil­ing,” Ly­lah said of her liv­ing room, which has been con­verted into a climb­ing gym with 26 hang­ing holds that can ac­com­mo­date rings, cones and “ba­nanas” (climb­ing holds curved like the fruit).

Ly­lah has be­come such a well­known am­bas­sador for the bur­geon­ing sport that Coloradobased Wolf­pack Ninja War­riors, which counts most of the NBC se­ries’ top com­peti­tors as mem­bers, have made her an of­fi­cial mem­ber — com­plete with her own page on their web­site, set to debut this sum­mer.

“They haven’t an­nounced it yet, but they’re do­ing a ‘Ju­nior Ninja War­rior’ show,” Gavin said. “That’s ages 9-14, so she’s still got a cou­ple years to train be­fore she can get on there. But we are get­ting ready to go to Las Ve­gas to cheer on the Ninja fi­nals at their tap­ing (June 17-25).”

In fact, Gavin will also com­pete on “Amer­i­can Ninja War­rior” thanks to Ly­lah, hav­ing trained in the process of watch­ing his daugh­ter over the last cou­ple of years.

“I’ve given up on hav­ing a nice house, with shoe marks and scratches all over the floors and walls,” Gavin said. “I didn’t have a house that was that nice any­way, but do­ing some­thing like this is a lot of fun for her, and she’s get­ting re­ally strong by do­ing it.”

Ly­lah and her dad’s goal is to get more women and girls on the show, hav­ing fielded com­ments from peo­ple around the world en­cour­aged to see Ly­lah climb­ing on and leap­ing off any­thing she can grasp. She’s bet­ter at it than her 16-year-old brother Se­bas­tian, she said, and can rat­tle off de­tails of ob­sta­cles like the quin­tu­ple steps, the “in­cline over the shed” and “Christ­mas Tree Corner” (a pile of hol­i­day dec­o­ra­tions that marked a mid-point of the back­yard course).

“I have two friends, one named Ada and one named Layla, and they like do­ing Ninja War­rior too,” Ly­lah said.

Are they as skilled as she is? “No,” she said. “But I’ve been do­ing it for many years, so that’s why I’m bet­ter.”

Pro­vided by NBC

Ly­lah MacCall be­came fa­mous on the in­ter­net at 5 years old with her “Amer­i­can Ninja War­rior”-style cour­ses built by her dad out­side their North­glenn home. She will ap­pear on NBC’s “Lit­tle Big Shots” this week.

Gavin MacCall, Face­book

Ly­lah MacCall, here when she was 5 years old, achieved in­ter­net fame nav­i­gat­ing an “Amer­i­can Ninja War­rior”-style ob­sta­cle course in her back­yard.

Pro­vided by NBC

Ly­lah MacCall, now 7, will ap­pear on “Lit­tle Big Shots” this week.

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