How an unexpected phone call put Biles on path to glory

Wed May 18, 2016 10:13pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

LONDON (Reuters) - As she approached her 50th birthday, Nellie Biles had thought her days of dealing with stroppy teenagers and adolescent mood-swings would soon be a thing of the past as her two sons were getting ready to fly the nest and head for college.

Then a phone call from a social worker in Ohio sparked a chain of events that shattered the dreams of a quiet future even before it had begun.

The caller informed her husband Ron that his daughter Shanon, who battled alcohol and drug addiction, was incapable of looking after her four young children.

By the end of 2000, Nellie and Ron found themselves responsible for the upbringing of a three-year-old Simone Biles and her toddler sister Adria -- having decided to formally adopt Ron's biological grand-daughters after Shanon's parental rights were terminated. Ron's sister took in Shanon's other two children.

While changing one's mindset from being a step-grandparent to a parent almost overnight was not easy, it is a decision that helped to make three-times world all around gold medalist Simone Biles into the champion she is.

"It’s really hard to explain because you do not one day wake up and decide ‘oh good, I’m going to be her mother and I’m going to love being her mother’," Nellie told Reuters in a telephone interview as her 19-year-old daughter gets ready to make her Olympic debut at the Rio Games in August.

"It wasn't an easy transition because they didn't have any connection to me and I didn't have any connection to them. It was a very trying time for me because they were not my children, they were related to Ron.

"I don’t think you could prepare yourself for something like that. Being a grandparent... that’s not something you can change. But then making a decision to adopt Simone and her sister..."   Continued...

Aug 15, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Simone Biles competes in the on floor exercise during senior P&G gymnastics championships at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports