Simone Biles is known for her positive attitude and perky smile, but the champion Olympic gymnast showed a darker side of her young life on this week’s Dancing With the Stars. Biles performed a Viennese waltz with pro partner Sasha Farber for the show’s Most Memorable Year night as she recalled the story of her adoption proceedings in 2000.
Simone Biles and her sister Adria were eventually adopted by their grandparents when the future gymnast was just 6-years-old. In her DWTS opening package, Simone revealed her biological mom was “suffering from drug and alcohol abuse and she was in and out of jail.”
“I never had mom to run to,” Simone revealed.
“I do remember always being hungry and afraid.”
Biles said that she was placed in foster care at age 3 and looked most forward to visits from her grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles. Three years later, Simone’s grandparents told her that instead of calling them “Grandma and Grandpa,” she could call them “Mom and Dad” if she wanted to.
Simone Biles now says her parents have given her a huge example of “how to treat other people,” and that they have always supported her.
“My parents saved me,” Biles said. “There’s nothing I could say to them to thank them enough.”
In her weekly blog for People magazine, Simone Biles revealed that it meant everything to her to have the chance to honor her parents through dance.
“I can’t say thank you enough to them, so hopefully this dance starts it off well,” Biles wrote.
“I think it will be a little bit sad but also exciting and I hope it inspires people.”
family is everything ???? wouldn't be who or where I am without my parents, thank you so much Mom&Dad I LOVE YOU pic.twitter.com/aYT6aQV7ve
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) April 11, 2017
Simone did not address her current relationship with her biological mother in her DWTS piece, but last summer Ron Biles’ now-sober daughter blasted the family for throwing her under the bus. Simone’s bio mom, Shanon, told TMZ Sports that while she signed away her parental rights to her daughters during her struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, she has been sober for nearly 10 years and didn’t think it was fair that her past was brought up when Simone won her first gold medal in Rio last summer.
“I feel like they’re defaming my character,” Shanon told TMZ Sports. “I was struggling back then but I’ve gotten better.”
Biles’ bio mom said Ron “didn’t have to be so harsh” when he talked about her past struggles, and he stepped in to save Simone in an interview with NBC last year.
“He could’ve been a little bit more classy with it,” she said. “He didn’t have to put me under the bus.”
At the time, Shanon revealed that she speaks with Simone “maybe every three months” and goes on vacation with her sometimes. Simone’s biological mother does not appear to have a relationship with her father anymore.
Last summer, NBC commentator Al Trautwig referred to Ron and Nellie Biles as Simone’s grandparents, sparking controversy over whether not they are the Olympian’s “real” parents. Trautwig later apologized for the faux pas.
Simone’s dad told USA Today that adopting Simone and her sister has been a wonderful experience.
“Raising kids is just a wonderful thing,” Biles said. “You get to see them grow and be a part of that and I can’t think of anything more satisfying. It is an important issue and I could only say good things about it.”
Biles’ proud parents were on hand in the Dancing With the Stars ballroom during her emotional performance, which earned her an impressive 36 out of 40 points from the show’s judges.
You can see Simone Biles’ powerful story and her Viennese waltz with Sasha Farber below.
[Featured Image by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for #Culinary Kickoff]