The story of Olympic gold medal hopeful Simone Biles is truly a story about “Triumph over Tragedy”. The triumph – her loving and supportive grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles. Her real parents – well that’s the tragedy that led to the triumph.
The U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team standout wasn’t born into the stable environment that helped propel her to Olympic glory . The 19-year-old’s biological mother, Shanon Biles, reportedly struggled with drugs and alcohol, and subsequently signed away parental rights to Simone and her little sister, Adria, in 2000. Maternal grandparents Ron and Nellie promptly adopted the young sisters, then just 3 years and a newborn, and have cared for them ever since.
Biles and her siblings were born into a fatherless, drug-abusing family and eventually placed in foster care. According to Texas Monthly:
Biles was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1997 to drug-addicted parents who struggled to care for their children. Biles and her three siblings were shuffled back and forth between their mother’s house and a foster home. (Biles’s father had abandoned her mother and was never present in his daughter’s life.)
When asked her what memories she has from those days, Biles recalled that one of the foster homes had a trampoline that she and her siblings weren’t allowed to play on.
Her upbringing was chaotic. Biles bounced back and forth between state and foster care until she was six years old. In 2001, her grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles, officially adopted Simone and her sister and moved them to Spring, Texas.
Simone describes the moment when her grandparents, Ron and Nellie, became Mom and Dad:
At the time, the sisters called Ron and Nellie “Grandpa” and “Grandma,” but one day Nellie sat Simone and Adria down for a talk. “She said, ‘It’s up to you guys. If you want to, you can call us Mom and Dad,’ ” Simone remembered.
“I went upstairs and tried practicing it in the mirror—‘Mom, Dad, Mom, Dad.’ Then I went downstairs, and she was in the kitchen. I looked up at her and I was like, ‘Mom?’ She said, ‘Yes!’ ”
Here is what Simone wrote about her parents on Father’s and Mother’s Day this year:
Happy Father’s Day to the best dad out there! Thanks for always protecting me! I love you ❤️
Happy Mothers Day to the worlds most amazing, sassy and cutest mom! I love you momma biles ????????????
Ron and Nellie were the first to introduce Simone to the sport of gymnastics. After a year at a local Texas gym, Biles was spotted by trainer and former competitive gymnast, Aimee Boorman, who has since overseen her meteoric rise.
And rise…Simone Biles has.
Simone Biles is one of the most decorated American female gymnasts in World Championship history. She has won 14 medals in 3 years, is the first African-American to be world all-around champion, and first woman to win three all-around champions.
Simone Biles is competing in the vault, balance beam, uneven bars and floor exercise at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She hasn’t lost a competition since 2013. Simone Biles is the shortest all-around gymnastic competitor at 4’9″.
Biles seems to pull off moves other gymnasts could only dream of. Her routines and dismounts are so complex and so rarely seen in competition, in the past they have even named them after her.
UPDATE: Since the original posting of this article, TEAM USA – Women’s gymnastics featuring Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian took the gold in the women’s team all-around final beating out Russia (silver), and China (bronze).