To answer that question, Us magazine recently asked Biles to empty her gymnastics bag in hopes of finding a secret formula to her success. While most of the contents of her bag were no surprise, the reporter noticed a white rosary that fell out. Biles explained, “My mom, Nellie, got me a rosary at church. I don’t use it to pray before a competition. I’ll just pray normally to myself, but I have it there in case.”
Faith has been one of the only constants in her rather difficult life. Biles was born in Ohio to a mother who was battling drug and alcohol abuse and at the age of three she was taken away from her mother. A social worker called her grandparents in Texas who willingly took her in and eventually adopted Biles and her younger sister, “Go ahead and send the kids to us…I didn’t want them to be raised by a stranger.”
Biles now calls her grandparents “mom and dad,” and attends Sunday Mass with them. They have been a big influence in her life and have supported her from the very beginning.
At the age of 6, Biles was introduced to gymnastics and has never stopped since. Her adoptive parents noticed her interest and talent in the sport, remarking in an interview with the Washington Post, “she always had loved bouncing on furniture in the house, so much so that her mother, Nellie, had grown weary of harping that the sofa and chairs weren’t a playground.”
By middle school she started to focus all of her energy on gymnastics, which meant she had to train at least 32 hours a week. This forced her to make the decision to choose homeschooling to allow her the freedom she needed. It was a choice that her mother left up to her, saying, “‘Whatever choice you make, I will support you…But you have to make that decision; it cannot be me because this is really a change in your life.’”
To see more: Aleteia.org