Gymnast Simone Biles has attracted lots of attention lately not only because of her stunning performance thus far at the Olympic Games, but also because of her unique family. Atlanta Black Star reported the 24-year-old was adopted by her maternal grandparents at age 6 along with her sister. The athlete had been taken in by her grandparents after her mother was struggling with drug and alcohol abuse.
Now, Biles’ birth mother is speaking out. In an interview with TMZ Sports, Shanon Biles said she believes her image has been tarnished because her battle with substances has been exposed.
“I feel like they’re defaming my character,” Shanon said of her parents Ron and Nellie Biles. “Because I know what happened. I was struggling back then but I’ve gotten better. Life goes on and that’s my past, it should be left in the past.”
When it comes to her father especially, Shanon – who said she has been sober since 2007 – believes he was too harsh in his description of her past issues.
Ron told NBC he and Nellie took care of Simone and her sister, Adria after the siblings went into foster care.
“Her mother had many problems – whether with drugs or alcohol,” Ron said. “The kids were eventually taken away from her. We took them in as family because they were family.”
“I feel like he didn’t have to be so harsh about it,” Shanon told TMZ of her father. “I’m his first born and he could have been a little bit more classy with it. He didn’t have to put me under the bus like that. I mean, I did go through my struggles and everything but you didn’t have to go through it the way you went through it.”
Shanon now sees Simone – who won a gold medal with Team USA in the women’s team all-around final – on birthdays and holidays. She said she was “so proud” of her daughter and they talk briefly every three months.
Though Simone has gone on record to say she refers to her grandparents as mom and dad, some still refer to them in the biological sense.
NBC commentator Al Trautwig clamped down on his statement that Ron and Nellie were Simone’s grandparents.