Simone Biles, you know the name.
Maybe you know of the 25 world championship medals by the young lady who has the most medals by any gymnast ever. Or maybe you know her being named the greatest gymnast of all time. And now, the Associated Press has named her Female Athlete of the Year 2019. All in all, the 22-year-old has made quite a name for herself already.
“I realize now with the platform I have it will be powerful if I speak up and speak for what I believe in,” Biles told The Associated Press. “It’s an honor to speak for those that are less fortunate. So if I can be a voice for them in a positive manner, then of course I’m going to do whatever I can.”
Her triple-twisting double-flip (the “triple double”) at the end of her first tumbling pass on floor exercise is a wondrous blur. Her double-twisting double-flip beam dismount (the “double double”) is so tough the International Gymnastics Federation made the unusual decision to downplay its value in an effort to deter other gymnasts from even trying it.
Biles has become well aware over the last three years that her every word and action carries far greater weight than she ever imagined. Her most impactful moment of 2019 might not have come during a meet but sitting for an interview on the eve of winning her record sixth national title, when she fought back tears while talking about how USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and the FBI failed to protect athletes during an investigation into Nassar’s abusive behavior.
“I’m starting to realize it’s not just the ‘gymternet’ anymore,” Biles said, using the term for her sport’s dedicated fans. “It’s an overall thing. It’s weird to get that kind of attention, but at the end of the day, I feel gymnastics has been overlooked in non-Olympic years. Yeah, it puts pressure on me. But I’m not trying to think about all the attention from the outside world.”
But her road to stardom and the history books was paved with hardship. Simone’s mom struggled with drug and alcohol abuse after she was born and her father was never there. So at the age of three, Simone was in foster care.
Ronald Biles, Simone’s biological grandfather received a call that changed his and Simone’s life forever.
“I got a call from a social worker that said Simone and her sister were in foster care. So I said without hesitation, ‘send them to me,'” he recalls. So Ronald moved them down to…