Although she is best known for being a gold medal-winning Olympian, there is much more to Simone Biles’ life story than her gymnastic abilities. The star athlete opened up about her childhood on “Dancing with the Stars” for a “Most Memorable Year”-themed episode.
Biles’ biological mother suffered from drug and alcohol addiction, and served frequent jail time. When Biles was 3 years old, social services removed her and her three siblings from their mother, placing them in foster care. The children remained in Ohio’s foster care system for three years.
During this time, Biles looked forward to visits from her maternal grandfather, Ron Biles. Because Biles and his wife, Nellie, lived in Texas, these visits were not as frequent as either the children or their grandparents would have liked.
When Simone was 6 years old and her younger sister, Adria, was 3, their grandparents made the decision to adopt them (Ron’s sister adopted their two older siblings). It was not long before the girls began to call their grandparents mom and dad.
Biles spoke about the difference her parents have made in her life on the moving DWTS episode.
“Even though there’s no right words, maybe a dance will say it for me,” she stated before performing a Viennese Waltz to Chris Tomlin’s “Good Good Father.”
In a corresponding Instagram post, the gymnast reiterated her touching tribute with a picture from the show, writing, “…wouldn’t be who or where I am without my parents, thank you so much Mom&Dad I LOVE YOU.”
Biles is using her fame to help other kids in foster care. She is currently the spokesperson for the nonprofit Mattress Firm Foster Kids, which provides in-kind and monetary donations to foster care organizations.
As of 2015, there were an estimated 427,910 children in foster care in the United States. Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway to learn more about becoming a foster parent.