Simone Biles and her family opened up in detail about the star gymnast's time in foster care and being adopted by her grandparents in the third episode of her Facebook Watch series, "Simone vs. Herself."
The episode titled "Who Am I?" focuses on the IOC and organizers announcing this past spring that family will not be able to attend the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics. Biles, 24, and her biological grandparents, who she calls mom and dad, reflect on never missing a competition and how she came to be who she is now.
Biles reflects on being hungry as a child
Biles' biological mother couldn't care for her four children and was battling drinking and drug problems at the time, Nellie Biles, Simone's grandmother, said. A social worker intervened after reports from neighbors.
"I don't remember a lot about foster care, but I definitely knew that we had been taken from our biological mom and then you just think you're going to go back to her," Biles said in the episode. "We were very fortunate that you got to stay with your siblings, because a lot of the time you either get re-grouped to home to home to home or you and your siblings get split up."
Biles said the children dealt with hunger as a child while with their biological mother.
"Growing up, me and my siblings were so focused on food because we didn't have a lot of food," she said. "I remember there was this cat around the house and I would be so hungry. They would feed this cat and I would be like, 'Where the heck is my food?' And so I think that's where it stemmed where I don't like cats is because this freaking street cat, she always fed it. But she never fed us."
The five-time Olympic medalist has two frenchies, Lilo and Rambo.
Biles' upbringing after foster care
Nellie and Ronald Biles, the superstar gymnast's maternal grandparents, adopted her and her younger sister Adria when they were young. The two moved to Texas, joining two older sons of the Biles'. The girls' two older siblings, Ashley and Tevin, stayed in Ohio where their father's sister adopted them.
Biles and Adria both said the eldest was protective of her younger sister, who was also in gymnastics. And she protected herself in ways, as well.
"I think in certain situations you almost have a cage around your heart," Biles said. "There's a part of you compartmentalized to almost keep yourself safe."
Nellie gave an intimate telling of how she navigated those early days in the third episode.
"I knew I had my own barriers because these were not my biological children," Nellie said. "You do everything that's nurturing, that's mothering, but emotionally you still have to be there 100%. And I was not.
"I remember praying for that bonding, because telling them that you love them and you care for them, that's all words. But you wake up one day and you realize that you would do anything for these children and that you would die for these children. And when that feeling comes ... that's when you know you're truly a mother."
Biles the Olympic superstar en route to Tokyo
Biles details getting her start in gymnastics through a daycare field trip and how everyone else around the family saw her talent from an early age. Nearly two decades later, she's a four-time Olympic gold medalist with 19 world championship gold medals.
That likely would not have been possible if not for her adoption.
"Being separated from my biological mom, being placed in foster care before I officially got adopted by my grandparents, it just set me up for a better route at life and I feel like I wouldn't be where I am unless that turning point happened," Biles said. "I would still be Simone Biles. Probably not Simone Biles that everybody else knows, the world knows, but I also believe everything happens for a reason and I'm forever grateful for that because I definitely got a second shot at life."
Biles dominated the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials to earn a spot on Team USA. She is joined by Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner. The group could out-medal the 2016 "Final Five."
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