Simone Biles helped lead the US women to capture gold in the team gymnastics competition Tuesday.
She is only 4 foot 9, however she is a fierce competitor, and has dominated gymnastics since her senior debut in 2013. The 19-year-old gymnast who is competing in her first Olympic games, has become known for faultless execution, athleticism and winning confidence.
She frequently talks about her close relationship with her parents, Ron and Nellie Biles. However, Biles’ childhood wasn’t always a smooth one.
Here’s what you need to know about Biles’ biological mother, Shanon Biles:
1. Shanon Struggled With Drug Addiction
Simone Biles was born on March 14, 1997 in Columbus, Ohio. By the time she was two, however, she was in foster care.
Shanon, who struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, was unable to take care of Biles and her three siblings. The children jumped between foster homes for six years before finally being adopted.
2. Her Father Adopted Simone & Her Sister
In 2002, a social worker in Ohio called Ron, Shanon’s father and told him that his daughter was incapable of caring for the four children, according to Bleacher Report. The social worker explained to him that his grandchildren were going to be put up for adoption.
Simone’s maternal grandfather, Ron, and his second wife, Nellie, adopted Simone and her younger sister, Adria. While Simone’s two brothers moved in with Ron’s sister.
Ron and Nellie brought the two young girls to Spring, Texas, a suburb of Houston. Now they’re known as “mom and dad” to their adopted daughters.
“Her mother had many problems with drugs or alcohol,” Ron said during an interview with NBC. “We took them in as family because they were family. And just gave them what we had: that’s love and encouragement.”
3. She Told TMZ That Her Father’s Remarks Were Insensitive
Shanon told TMZ Sports that her father was insensitive when he discussed her substance abuse during an interview with NBC.
“I feel like they’re defaming my character,” Shanon said to TMZ. “I was struggling back then but I’ve gotten better. … He didn’t have to be so harsh about it. He could’ve been a little bit more classy with it. He didn’t have to put me under the bus.”
4. Shanon Said She Is Sober & Remains In Touch With Simone
Shanon told TMZ that she has been sober since 2007.
“Life goes on, and that’s my past,” she said. “That’s what it should be left at — the past.”
In the TMZ interview, she also said that she speaks with Simone “maybe every three months.”
“I just want to say I love you Simone,” she said during the interview. “I’m so proud of you! Go Team USA and I’ll talk to you and see you when I can.”
5. Simone Considers Nellie Her Mom
Nellie recounted the decision to adopt Simone and her sister to Bleacher Report.
“It was hard, but it was necessary to bring Simone and Adria here and to give them a home,” Nellie told the publication. “So it was really an easy decision to have the girls come live with us.”
In her younger years, Simone decided that calling her grandparents ‘mom and dad’ was more fitting than referring to them as ‘grandma and grandpa.’ She recalled the moment she had the revelation to Texas Monthly.
“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!’ ”
Simone said her mom, Nellie has been giving her encouraging pep talks for years.
“It started in 2013 after a little bit before I made the world [championships] team,” Simone told NBC. “I used to be so hard on myself and she’s like, ‘You know what, just go out there and be the best Simone that you can be. You don’t have to compete against anybody. It’s just you and yourself out there.’
“So that always just helped me calm me down… I am very fortunate that I have these parents that can come with me and support me and I can go to them after a bad day or after a good day and they’re always still love me. They don’t care what I do because I’m always their Simone.”