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Not Raised by Biological Mother, Sha’Carri Richardson Credits ‘Pillar’ of Life Who Paved Her Track and Field Career

Published 05/15/2024, 6:30 AM EDT

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Sha’Carri Richardson, a standout track and field athlete known for her speed and vibrant personality, has often been in the spotlight for her achievements and bold statements. Behind her success lies a profound story, raised by her grandmother instead of her biological mother, Richardson credits this central figure in her life. In their care, she was encouraged to join track and as a high school sophomore, she competed on the National level at AAU Junior Olympics. She won gold there and her career has only reached new heights since then. 

In her journey to becoming one of the greatest athletes of the generation, she has credited her aunt, whom she often refers to as mom. Though she has said her family dynamic is sensitive and complicated to understand, her aunt in her life has stood like a ‘pillar’ staying solid beside her despite the 2021 scandal and other setbacks. 

Sha’Carri Richardson is back but not without the ones that supported her

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In a recent interview with NBC, Sha’Carri Richardson laid out her life story and the women who made her success possible, especially her aunt Shayari Richardson: “My mom has definitely been a pillar in my life to just be better. Understanding you may not come from ideal circumstances, but at the same time, it’s not where you start, it’s where you, it’s the direction you want to go.” She further said that the unwavering belief in her mother ignited a spark that turned her into a blazing passion, stating, I wouldn’t have even started running track if it wasn’t for my mom.” In the 2021 Tokyo Games, Richardson faced a significant setback when she was tested positive for marijuana and subsequently suspended by the US Anti-Doping Agency. She had also faced the devastating loss of her mother during that time. 

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But Sha’Carri is back, and better than before. She made headlines in 2023 after winning gold in the 100-meter dash with 10.65 sec in Budapest. This earned her the title of the fastest woman in the world. Her meteoric rise from Dallas ISD’s Carter High School is no surprise to those who have followed her –  as Dallas symbolizes culture, urban life, family, and dreams fulfilled. “Dallas is a special place to me,” she once said. Meanwhile, Sha’Carri also contributed to another gold for the relay team at the World Championships. The sprinter said, “I’m not back, I’m better.”

After the win, her godmother and coach informed her about how a track at John Kincaide Stadium located near her old high school, David W. Carter High, was being named after her. Though she initially thought it was a park, she added, “But actually, learning it was a track that I literally started my career of track and field on, it was literally a full circle moment.” It’s clear that in her quest for redemption, Sha’Carri has been flanked with support from her hometown and family.

Sha’Carri Richardson’s tributes to her grandmother and loved ones

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The 24-year-old had told NBC how it was her family who helped her build back from the disappointment in the Tokyo Games knowing Paris was just 3 years away. Though it was her biological mother who was a track and field athlete, it was her aunt Betty and grandmom Shayari who raised her to reach her full potential. In another NBC interview, she said, “I’m highly grateful for them. Without them, there would be no me. Without my grandmother, there would be no Sha’Carri Richardson. So my family is my everything. My everything until the day I’m done.”

It was their efforts for which Richardson enrolled at LSU and had a knockout collegiate season. Her grandmother was also very clear to Richardson that there were no shortcuts. She had to work hard to be awarded. Keeping that in mind till today, Sha’Carri Richardson continues to give her all. Recently, she was named the 2023 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Female Athlete. She said, “I know it sounds very cliche, but all my hard work paid off.” In the future, like her aunt and grandmother, we are also waiting for Sha’Carri Richardson to win the 100m Olympic Gold that will make her the first American woman in nearly 30 years to do so.

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Written by

Anchal Ahuja

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Anchal Ahuja is a senior Olympic Sports Writer at EssentiallySports. With over 5 years of experience in journalism, Anchal decided to pursue her love for sports and cover various pathways of the Olympics. She actively covers swimming, track and field, and gymnastics.
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Edited by

Suman Varandani