25 world championship medals later, Simone Biles still vividly remembers her childhood in foster care.
Simone, now a world renowned gymnast, didn’t have the most graceful start in life. Her mother, Shannon Biles, suffered from alcohol and drug abuse that led to Simone and her siblings frequent removal from her care. From the time she was about 2 until 5, the 4 siblings were in and out of the foster system.
In an interview with USA Today, she said she was fortunate not to be separated from her siblings and to have good foster parents while in care. However, the looming threat of instability still lingered and she would often sneak into her brothers’ room at night to ensure he was still there.
Whenever social workers would take them away from her mother in Ohio, they would notify their grandfather, Ron Biles, in Texas. Eventually, he decided to take all the children into his home and adopted Simone and her younger sister, Adrian. Simone’s older brothers returned to Ohio and were adopted by a great aunt.
At first Ron’s wife, Nellie Biles, was hesitant about expanding their family. Their home doubled from 4 people to 8.
However, when asked what she would tell those considering becoming foster or adoptive parents, she said, “If you open your heart for someone else, you cannot even compare what you get in return. Not everyone’s going to be a Simone. But let me tell you, any child will bring love in that family.”
Simone said she is grateful Nellie and Ron took the leap of faith to adopt her and gave her guidance, love, care, and safety.
“So I’m just very grateful for the opportunity and to be adopted by family and have a good head on
my shoulders, but also have that guidance. And for them to take such a leap of faith.”- Simone Biles
Simone also said, “I definitely wouldn’t have been in gymnastics,” based on the time and cost alone.
Now, Simone Biles has the most gold medals in World Championship history for an athlete – of any gender.
At only 24 years old she has made several historic firsts: the first woman to win her third consecutive world all-around title, first woman to claim five national all-around titles, and the first gymnast to pull off a double-double dismount from the balance beam, to name a few.
Simone Biles is also is an advocate for mental health, sexual abuse survivors, and children in foster care.
“At the end of the day, medals are medals. But being a voice, that’s something people always remember,” Simone said.