By now, Simone Biles' history as a gymnast has been well-documented: she became interested in the sport at the age of 6, and has basically done nothing but win ever since. Biles' near-constant domination of the competition may make it seem like everything — especially gymnastics — comes easily to her, but her current successes are even more remarkable when you realize how hard she's worked to get to where she is. For example, Biles' biological father, Kelvin Clemons, was never in the picture; her mother, Shanon Biles, recently told the Daily Mail that she was forced to give up Simone and her other children for adoption.
Prior to being adopted by her grandparents, Biles and her siblings were in and out of foster care. When Biles was just 3 years old, she and her other siblings were taken from their mother by social services, Heavy.com reported. Biles and her younger sister, Adria, moved in with Shanon's father Ronald Biles, and his wife, Nellie — due to ongoing drug and alcohol addition, Shanon decided she was not in a position to care for her children at the time. When Biles was 6 years old, she was officially adopted by her grandparents.
Nonetheless, Biles said her childhood was happy and normal. "When I was younger, I thought every kid was adopted," she told Time. "I didn't understand why people made it such a big deal. To me, it's just normal."
Shanon told the Daily Mail that she and her daughter have been estranged for the majority of the young gymnast's life. In 2003, after Simone and her younger sister, Adria, were adopted by Shanon's father, Shanon lost touch with her children. "It took me six years before I saw my children again," Shanon told the Daily Mail. "I was respecting my Dad['s decision] to let the kids transition, he felt that was the best thing for them."
"When we signed the [adoption] papers, it was like my dad flipped a switch on me — no communication, don't call, and don't visit. That's how it was at the beginning," Shanon said in her exclusive interview with the Daily Mail.
Biles was 12 years old by the time she was first reunited with her mother — by that point, she had been practicing gymnastics for six years, and had been training with Aimee Boorman, her coach to this day, for four years.
Biles' birth father, however, has remained out of the picture. According to Shanon, she and Clemons met as teenagers, but Clemons has never played an active role in his daughter's life. Shanon told the Daily Mail that like herself, Clemons also struggled with his own addictions. Clemons' struggles, when combined with his geographical distance from his daughters — he lives in Cleveland, and Biles was raised in a suburb of Houston — explains why the pair haven't had contact.
Nonetheless, like the rest of the country, Biles' parents are watching their daughter's successes from home.
"He just called me on Sunday. I said, 'I'm watching Simone, are you watching her? Are you watching her? Call me back later,'" Shanon told the Daily Mail. "He knows that's his daughter, and he's very proud of her." Although she and her daughter have not been present in each other's lives, Shanon is a deservedly proud mother.