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Gymnastics G.O.A.T Simone Biles’ parents, Nellie and Ronald Biles, have been in the stands cheering her on at plenty of major meets. Who can forget the couple sweetly embracing after watching Simone win the all-around gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics?
Unfortunately, parents won’t be able to attend the Tokyo Summer Games due to COVID-19 restrictions but, naturally, they’ll be there in spirit. This dynamic duo has been supporting Simone for many, many years.
And they're continuing to stand by Simone at Tokyo. After winning a bronze medal for her balance beam routine (her first and final individual medal at this Olympics), the gymnast FaceTimed her parents, she revealed at a press conference.
"I was FaceTiming with my family. They had a little watch party at the house," Simone said, per People. "It was my mom, my dad, my brother, my sister-in-law, my godparents. They just wanted to say hi and stuff like that. But given the time change, they're 14 hours behind so usually at night, I'll FaceTime them or in the morning. Almost every day I've gotten to talk to them which has been nice and reassuring."
They've even stuck by her through the sudden death of her aunt, People reported. Simone's coach, Cecile Canqueteau-Landi, said the athlete got the news right after her beam performance. "That was another one, I was like, 'Oh my God. This week needs to be over,'" Landi said. "I asked her what do you need. And she said, 'I just need some time.'"
"She called her parents," Landi continued. "She said, 'There's nothing I can do from over here. So I'm just going to finish my week and when I get home we'll deal with it.'"
Given Simone's super impressive track record, it’s only natural to wonder about the couple who raised her. So, who are Nellie and Ronald Biles? Here’s what you need to know about Simone Biles' parents:
They’re not Simone’s biological parents.
Ronald is actually Simone’s maternal grandfather, and Nellie is his wife. Simone has been open about her grandparents adopting her, but she tearfully shared on Dancing with the Stars in 2017 that they “saved” her.
"Growing up, my biological mom was suffering from drug and alcohol abuse and she was in and out of jail," Simone said. "I never had mom to run to. I do remember always being hungry and afraid. At 3 years old, I was placed in foster care." Simone said she got to visit her grandparents during that time, and she was always “so excited” about it.
Simone said that her grandfather eventually told her, “OK, you know how you called us Grandma and Grandpa? You can call us Mom and Dad now, if you want to." Simone was adopted by her grandparents, and now calls them “Mom” and “Dad.”
"My parents saved me," she said. "They’ve set huge examples of how to treat other people, and they’ve been there to support me since day one. There’s nothing I could say to them to thank them enough."
Nellie and Ronald adopted Simone in 2003.
They didn’t just adopt Simone: They also adopted her sister, Adria. They both had been in and out of foster care. Simone was six at the time.
Simone has given them all the love on Instagram: "HAPPY FATHERS DAY TO THE BEST & SWEETEST DAD IN THE WORLD 🤎 I LOVE YOU!"
And her mom got a birthday shoutout: "thanks for making all things happen & being a rock in my life! Forever grateful for you! Can’t wait to celebrate you tonight!!"
Simone's two older siblings, Tevin and Ashley, were taken in by Ronald’s sister.
Nellie shared that it was hard to become an adoptive mom at first.
In Simone vs. Herself, a seven-part docuseries on Facebook Watch, Nellie shared that it was tough for her to bond with Simone and Adria at first since she was already raising two sons of her own. “I knew I had my own barriers because these were not my biological children. You do everything that’s nurturing, that’s mothering, but emotionally, you still have to be there 100%,” she said.
“I remember praying for that bonding,” Nellie continued. “Because telling them that you love them and you care for them; that’s all words. But then 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 are truly a mother."
Simone’s biological mom, Shanon Biles, struggled to give up her children.
Shanon did an interview with the Daily Mail in 2016, explaining it was “hard to give up my kids, but I had to do what I had to. I wasn’t able to care for them.”
“I was still using, and [Ronald] didn’t want me coming in and out of their lives when I wasn’t right,” she added.
She's been sober since 2007 and has worked as a home-help aid. Shanon speaks with Simone regularly, but conversations are short. "When I talk to Simone, it’s a brief conversation, like, 'I miss you, I love you, I can’t wait to see you, I’m proud of you, I’m watching," she explains. "You go girl.'"
Simone’s biological father, Kelvin Clemons, is not in touch with his daughter. Though he's not in the athlete's life, "he knows that’s his daughter and he’s very proud of her," Shanon told the publication.
Simone's parents own a gymnastics center.
And Simone trains there, of course. "Representation matters, and we want to inspire the next generation to pursue their passion," Simone told Health, of training at her parents’ Black-owned gym. "Kids can come in and we will be training in the back, and they can see we are just like them. It helps them understand they can do it, too."
The aptly named World Champions Centre is 56,000 square feet and located in Simone's home town of Spring, Texas. It offers a wide variety of classes and training for all levels and ages.
The Tokyo Olympics will be the first time Simone’s parents aren’t there to cheer her on.
Protocol for the Tokyo Olympics is strict due to the ongoing pandemic. With a ban on spectators, Ronald and Nellie aren’t able to be in the stands to root for Simone. This is reportedly the first time Nellie won’t be there, and Simone has shared that she’s struggling with it:
not me crying on the plane because I’ll miss my family & friends
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) July 14, 2021
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