- Simone Biles recounted her childhood during “Simone vs Herself” Episode 3, which came out Tuesday.
- The superstar gymnast recalled growing up hungry before she and her siblings went into foster care.
- Biles’ biological grandfather and his second wife, Nellie, adopted her when she was 6.
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Simone Biles is arguably the most celebrated athlete on the planet right now, but she still remembers the days when she was struggling to find her next meal.
Long before she was the greatest gymnast in the history of the sport, Biles was a young girl living with her four siblings and a mother who “was doing a lot of drinking and drugs,” according to Biles’ adoptive mother, Nellie. And during Episode 3 of Biles’ Facebook Watch docuseries, “Simone vs Herself,” Biles recalled those times when she was more focused on finding food than perfecting a tumbling pass.
“Growing up, me and my siblings were so focused on food because we didn’t have a lot of food,” Biles said. “I remember there was this cat around the house. And I would be so hungry, and they would feed this cat and I’m like, ‘Where the heck is my food?'”
“So I think … why I don’t like cats is because this frickin’ street cat, she always fed it but she never fed us,” she added.
Child services later intervened because the neighbors were concerned about Biles and her siblings. They went to foster care and “were very fortunate” to stay together as a group of four.
Still, Biles remembered feeling an immense sense of anxiety about potentially getting separated from her siblings. She recalled running to her older brother’s room to sleep there “because I thought in the morning he was going to disappear.”
“I don’t remember a lot about foster care, but I definitely knew that we had been taken from our biological mom,” Biles said. “And then you just think you’re gonna go back to her.”
Eventually, her maternal grandfather, Ron Biles, and his second wife, Nellie, adopted Biles and her younger sister. They quickly “became mom and dad,” according to the gymnast.
Biles’ two older siblings moved to Ohio to live with an aunt.
“In certain situations, you almost have a cage around your heart,” Biles said. “There’s a part of you that you compartmentalize to almost keep yourself safe.”
For Nellie, who had no genetic affiliation with Biles and her younger sister, Adria, the journey to becoming their mother was a bit more complicated. She described feeling as though there were “barriers because these were not my biological children.”
“You do everything that’s nurturing, that’s mothering,” Nellie said. “But emotionally, you still have to be there 100%. And I was not.”
She said she would pray to feel a special bond with the two girls. Eventually, those prayers were answered.
“Telling them that you love them and that you care for them – that’s all words,” Nellie said. “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,” she added, choking up, “that’s when you know you’re truly a mother.”
Check out the entire emotional third episode of “Simone vs Herself” – with commentary from Biles, her siblings, and her parents – below: