At just 21-years-old, Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse is looking to become the future of his sport. He already won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics and won silver in the 200m Thursday night, coming in second behind Usain Bolt. Both of De Grasse’s parents are immigrants and De Grasse was born in Scarborough, Ontario and grew up in the Toronto suburb of Markham. However, he attended the University of Southern California.
Here’s a look at De Grasse’s family.
1. His Mother Was a Sprinter in Trinidad & Tobago Before Emigrating to Canada
Sprinting runs in the De Grasse family. The Orange County Register notes that his mother, Beverly DeGrasse was a high school sprinter in her native Trinidad and Tobago. She moved to Canada when sh was 26.
“I was always fast,” Beverly De Grasse told the Globe and Mail in June 2015.
His mother also influenced his faith. He is Catholic and has the work “hope” and a prayer tattooed on his arm.
“He’s a reserved and quiet kid,” Beverly De Grasse said of her son.
2. His Father Was Born in Barbados & Is a Retired School Guidance Counselor
De Grasse’s father is Alex Waithe, who moved to Canada from Barbados as a teen. He is a retired secondary school guidance councilor and also worked as a cultural promoter.
“When you look at the great Canadians on display and the fact that Andre is up there with them, this is a big deal for him and our family,” Waithe told ShareNews in July 2015 ahead of the 2015 Canadian track and field trials in Edmonton.
“Andre has had a fantastic season and I hope it carries over to the Pan Am Games where he could put on a show for family, friends and his country,” Waithe continued. “I have already bought my tickets for the track and field events.”
Waithe has three other children, Julian Waithe, Alexandra Waithe and Dantee Waithe.
3. His Mother Beverly First Signed Him Up For Soccer & He Only Started Running in 12th Grade
While it might look like De Grasse has been training for this moment in the spotlight forever, that’s not the case. He has already been quick on his feet, but his mother first thought that he could channel that energy into soccer. When he was 4 years old, she signed him up for the sport.
“In basketball all he wanted to do was play, play fast,” Beverley De Grasse told the Orange County Register. “He was always quick. In soccer he’d get the ball and you couldn’t catch him.”
However, De Grasse became interested in basketball while in high school, but that career path stalled when his high school, Milliken Mills, didn’t have a basketball team in his last year. He decided to try track instead and something clicked.
“There was a lot of violence in the area I grew up at. I did bad things, drugs,” De Grasse told the Register. “Yes, I was doing drugs and a whole bunch of stuff. Track saved me, let me go onto a better future.”
4. De Grasse Says His Mom Means ‘Everything’ & Wouldn’t Be Running Without Her
After winning bronze in Rio on August 14, De Grasse told CBC News that his mother means “everything” to him.
“You know, without her I don’t know if I would even be so motivated to do this sport. She’s given me a lot of motivation,” he said.
De Grasse added that his mother always tells him to do his best and that he’s just as fast as his competition. “And when you have a mom just saying that to you, and giving you that type of love — I just try to keep that in my heart and take it to the track,” he said.
5. Beverly Wrote a Column in the Huffington Post About Why She’s Lucky to be De Grasse’s Mother
In a column for The Huffington Post and Procter & Gamble, Beverly De Grasse wrote that she’s lucky to have De Grasse as her son. She wrote that, as De Grasse is her only child, she dedicated herself to supporting him.
Beverly De Grasse wrote:
Andre and I still talk nearly every day and support each other through all of life’s ups and downs. There is a saying in my native country, “No man is an island,” meaning, it takes a village to raise a kid. I’ve been lucky with the support Andre and I have received from everyone around us throughout his life.