Dr. Debi Thomas, a former ice-skating Olympic champion who won a bronze medal in the 1988 Winter Olympics, is now broke and living in a bed-bug infested trailer with her fiancé and his two children from a previous relationship. Thomas, however, has lost custody of her own son.
You can be talented and brilliant and still end up a total mess https://t.co/jn9aPEiv5O
— Ayelet Survivor (@ayelet_survivor) November 7, 2015
She was the first African-American to win a medal at the winter games. In 1991, she completed an engineering degree at Stanford University. Debi, now 48-years-old, attended Northwestern University Medical School, graduating with a medical degree in 1997. She followed this up with a surgical residency and an orthopedic residency. She has not been in the public eye for quite a while, but will appear on the OWN network’s Iyana: Fix My Life on Sat., 9 p.m., EST.
The show is hosted by Iyanla Vanzant, who is known for guiding people, especially women, out of dire life situations. It’s bound to be a heart-wrenching episode, and hopefully, will answer Thomas’s fans questions on where she has been and what has happened to her during the years since the Olympics. After completing surgical and orthopedic residencies, Debi worked at two hospitals, but left over disagreements with colleagues. In 2010, she started her own practice in Virigina.
This is where the questions arise as to what happened to Debi. Surely, most would think she could obtain some type of job that would enable her to live decently. But in the previews to the Iyanla episode, it becomes clear that something else is going on. She is twice divorced and said a series of events, including the second divorce and bankruptcy, caused her to lose all savings. Thomas is no longer practicing medicine, and the Daily Mail reports that her future husband, Jamie Looney has issues with alcohol and anger. Before appearing on Iyanla’s show, Debi started a GoFundMe page titled “Help Olympian Family – Debi and Jamie.” She explained why funds are needed.
“This cause has been developed as an emergency fund for Dr. Debi Thomas, her fiancé, Jamie Looney, and their family to restore financial stability after severe sudden financial losses over the past couple of years associated with a combination of financially crippling life challenges. This assistance will help cover expenses while they complete their promising projects currently in the works.”
One one of the trailer videos, Iyanla questions Debi Thomas on how she came to live in an overcrowded trailer. Vanzant also asks Thomas how it’s possible for her to raise someone else’s children when she doesn’t have custody of her own. Ultimately, the ever-truthful Iyana tells the former Olympian that if she doesn’t love and take care of herself that she can’t help anyone else. When Iyanla questions Debi on how she feels in her situation, her response is “frustrated,” and Vanzant wonders why the once-accomplished woman is “not sad, not angry, not ashamed?,” per the Huffington Post.
This is a very sad story about Debi Thomas the world class skater who lost to Katarina Witt. What I find even… https://t.co/T6BTMhMJgk
— Life & Biz Blogger (@evafrombrea) November 7, 2015
Debi Thomas, hopefully, will be honest about what’s going on in her life that has led to her current situation. She was an icon for young girls, especially African American ones, on what could be accomplished with determination and brain power. She said there were two things she wanted to do in life—become a figure skater and a physician, noted the Huffington Post. She was able to accomplish both, but perhaps her greatest challenge will be starting over and becoming healthy and empowered once again.
[Image via AHIMA/YouTube screenshot]