Simone Biles makes gymnastics look easier than any athlete who has ever competed, but her life hasn’t always been that simple. When she was a child, Biles was often left hungry by her birth mother in favor of a stray cat that was always roaming around the house. Biles’ life has improved tremendously since then, but the Olympic legend still hates cats for the traumatic experience of her childhood.
The complicated childhood of Simone Biles
Biles was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1997. She grew up with her three birth siblings, but her caregivers changed over the years.
When Biles was too young to even remember, her birth father left the family and her birth mother turned to drugs and alcohol. It eventually became clear that her mother could not look after her and her siblings, and so they were all placed in foster care. Fortunately, all four were taken to the same home together and learned how to take care of each other without a mother or father.
“I don’t remember much about foster care, but I definitely knew we were taken by our birth mother and then you just think you’re going to come back to her,” Biles said on a recent episode of Simone vs Yourself on Facebook Watch. “We were very lucky that you could stay with your siblings, because often you are either regrouped from house to house or you and your siblings are separated.”
When she was six years old, Biles and her sister Adria were adopted by their grandparents Ron and Nellie Biles. Since then, they have been considered the father and mother of Biles.
Galle still hates cats today because of a traumatic childhood experience
Team United States’ Simone Biles watches the women’s team finals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics | Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images
Before Biles moved into a foster home, she starved almost every day while living with her birth mother. With a drug and alcohol problem and no father to help out, her mother simply didn’t have the means to feed Biles and her three siblings.
But for some reason she had an affinity with a local stray cat, and she was often given food on days Biles didn’t. The gymnast believes that is why she still hates cats today.
“When I was growing up, my siblings and I were so focused on eating because we didn’t have much to eat,” she said. “I remember there was this cat in the house and I was so hungry. You would feed this cat and I would be like, ‘Where the hell is my food?’ And so I think that is [why] I don’t like cats because that damn street cat always fed them, but they never fed us. “
The Olympics were only possible because of her grandparents
Biles is now considered one of the greatest Olympians of all time, but she would never have found gymnastics without her grandparents.
After her adoption, Biles discovered gymnastics at the age of six on a day-care excursion. Biles started copying the flips and twists she’d seen from the other athletes at the facility, and she was a natural.
Soon after, a letter arrived at Biles’ new home asking if she would like to take a class, and the rest is history.
However, without the selflessness of her grandparents, she would never have made it to where she is today.
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