The arrest of the champion Olympic gymnast Simone Biles’ brother in connection with a triple-murder was not the first time the young gold medalist has faced turmoil within her family.
Tevin Biles-Thomas, 24, was arrested Thursday night in Georgia and charged with murder in a New Year’s Eve shooting in Cleveland that left three people dead. He is one of Biles’ three siblings.
Biles, 22, who is the most decorated American gymnast of all time, has written about her struggle growing up in and out of foster care when she was a child.
“My birth mother suffered from drug addiction, and when I was just 3 years old, my siblings and I were removed from her custody,” she wrote in an op-ed for CNN last year. “From there, we bounced around until I was 6 and my grandparents made the brave move to adopt us.”
Biles and her younger sister were adopted by Nellie and Ron Biles, their grandparents, while Biles-Thomas and another sister were adopted by Ron Biles’ sister. Biles has said she considers Ron and Nellie to be her father and mother.
“Although I was young when my foster care ordeal began, I remember how it felt to be passed off and overlooked,” she wrote. “Like nobody knew me or wanted to know me. Like my talents didn’t count, and my voice didn’t matter.”
“Finding a family made me feel like I mattered,” Biles wrote. “Finding a passion, something I loved and was really good at, made me feel like I mattered. Representing my country and being part of such an amazing Olympic team matters, as does being a role model for those looking to fulfill their own dreams.
In 2016, Ron Biles said the experience of the children going through foster care was “scary.”
“The fact that part of my family, my blood, was living with strangers, that troubled me, the fact that my daughter was having that many problems,” he said.
It is unclear how close Biles was to her brother. Representatives for Biles said they had no comment on Biles-Thomas’ arrest.
In 2017, Biles tweeted a photo of herself and Biles-Thomas, writing: “my brother tevin / everyone says we look like twins but we don’t see it.”
In addition to her family turmoil, Biles revealed she has also had to overcome sexual abuse by the disgraced team doctor, Larry Nassar.
Last year, the four-time Olympic gold medalist said she too was one of hundreds of gymnasts who had been sexually abused by Nassar.
“Most of you know me as a happy, giggly and energetic girl. But lately … I’ve felt a bit broken and the more I try to shut off the voice in my head the louder it screams,” Biles wrote in a statement in January 2018.
“I am not afraid to tell my story anymore. I, too, am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar,” she continued.
“Please believe me when I say it was a lot harder to first speak those words out loud than it is now to put them on paper,” she wrote
Earlier this month, Biles spoke through tears ahead of the U.S. National Championships in Missouri about coming back to the sport after the scandal and her continued distrust of U.S.A. Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body.
“It’s not easy coming back to the sport, coming back to the organization that has failed you,” she said. “I feel every day is a reminder of what I went through and what I’ve been through and what I’m going through and how I’ve come out of it. I try just not to think about it.”
Just days later she landed a triple-double flip, which no other female gymnast ever had, on her way to wining her sixth U.S. title.
Nellie Biles told the Associated Press in 2015 that Simone was a “survivor.”
“She’s been a survivor from a very, very young age,” she said.