Did you know that Simone Biles doesn’t like cats because of her biological mother? Simone and her siblings ended up in foster care when she was just 3 years old because her biological mother suffered from alcohol and drug abuse. Simone’s biological mother was unable to take care of her children as she went to jail often and left the Biles siblings in hunger and fear.

Luckily, nobody regrouped or split Simone Biles from her siblings and sent them to different homes, so they didn’t have to spend much time apart. But whenever her grandfather, Ronald Biles visited the foster home, little Biles was always excited, “That was the person I always wanted to see.” By the time she was 6 years old, Ronald Biles and his wife Nellie Cayetano Biles adopted Simone Biles and her younger sister Adria and moved to Texas. Their father’s sister adopted the other two siblings, Ashley and Tevin, who remained in Ohio.

Reflecting on this emotional journey during an interview on the “Call Her Daddy” podcast, the seven-time Olympic medalist opened up to host Alexandra Cooper and shared her adoption journey. Recounting the moment when her grandparents revealed their decision to adopt her and her sister Adria, Biles, now 27, shared her initial confusion when they asked if they should be called “mom” and “dad.”


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Biles expressed, “I was like, why is everyone freaking?… Well, you know my parents, those are my grandparents. My uncles that I call my brother now, those were my uncles. I just remember we all sat on the floor, practice stopped because everybody needed to know the story. The coaches were intrigued. Everybody, they were like, You’re adopted?…

via Reuters

But the fact that her biological mom Shanon is also her adoptive parents’ child has been difficult for her to wrap her head around. Biles added, “….crazy explaining to people because I’m like, my biological mom is also my dad’s daughter and I call him dad. So it’s just like everybody’s hella confused… It’s a whole family tree that you’re like, Don’t make me explain it. My parents are my parents. I got chosen. Feeling blessed…”

Simone Biles would have been Simone Biles, but not the world’s most celebrated gymnast or ‘the G.O.A.T’. Being adopted by her grandparents proved to be a stroke of luck for the 27-year-old; without it, she might have been homeless or not even completed her education. “I have no idea where I would be without being adopted…” She said to Cooper while crediting her adoptive parents for a smooth journey. 


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However, when people talked about her unusual adoption, Simone Biles made a powerful statement that mattered to her and said, My parents are my parents”. Biles’ biological mother, Shanon, now clean and sober, supports her Olympian daughter from afar but silently heaves a sigh of relief because her daughter has been placed in a lovely home, that she couldn’t provide. 

Simone Biles and her sibling did not have enough food growing up

While growing up, Shanon was most of the time away from the children because of her drug abuse. She hardly looked after the children and their basic needs. In an interview a few years ago, Biles opened up about how she and her siblings suffered from insufficient food while living with their biological mother. She recalled a peculiar portion from her childhood and said, “I remember there was this cat around the house and I would be so hungry. They would feed this cat and I would be like, ‘Where the heck is my food?’ And so I think that’s [why] I don’t like cats … because this freaking street cat, she (Shanon) always fed it. But she never fed us.”


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Later, when Biles and her siblings had to make often trips to foster homes, her grandfather-turned-father did not want the children there, so he took them in. Initially, Nellie had her own barriers because they were not her biological children. But eventually, she realized she wanted to do anything and everything for them and that’s when she became a true mother.


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Biles found a warm home, and supportive parents who helped her become what she is today. They have been spotted at several events since she began her participation in gymnastics. It was even reported that she would feel weird if her parents were not around during competitions. Just 97 days away from the 2024 Paris Olympics, the 27-year-old will step into the event with big hopes and it will be exciting for her parents to catch Biles in action.


Written by:

Agnijeeta Majumder


One take at a time

Agnijeeta Majumder is an Olympic Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Being a former sprinter herself, Agnijeeta takes a specific interest in field events. She covers track and field, equestrian sports, alpine skiing, and gymnastics.
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Edited by:

Bhavani Singh