In just the span of a week, superstar gymnast Gabby Douglas has become America’s beloved sweetheart after winning two gold medals at the London Olympics. But while America and the rest of the globe may be showing the star athlete all the love in the world, Douglas recently revealed that the love she was missing for most of her life was from her father, who was an absentee dad.
Douglas spoke about her relationship with her dad, Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy Douglas, during a recent interview with NBC, explaining that her father was out of the picture for most of her childhood as he served multiple stints overseas.
“I just had to pray to God just to keep him safe and tell the angels to keep my dad safe and come home,” she explained.
Douglas’ father was deployed to Iraq when she was just 9 years old, leaving her mother, Nathalie Hawkins, to care for their four children alone. At 11, Gabby was separated from her family in Virginia Beach, Va., when she went to live with a sponsor family in Des Moines, Iowa, to train.
“It was hard for us growing up — my dad had left us, so he wasn’t really in the picture anymore. So, my mom had to front all these bills. My dad didn’t really pay the child support. He was short [on money],” Gabby said in a recent interview with the New York Post. “It was definitely hard on my mom, taking care of me and my siblings.”
It wasn’t until the June Olympic trials that Douglas saw her father for the first time in two years as he and a friend cheered her on from the stands. “I almost felt like bawling. I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, Dad!’ ” she explained.
Douglas’ confession came just after reports that her mother filed for divorce just before the Olympics started. Timothy was unable to get tickets to the Olympics. Like many of us, Timothey watched his daughter on TV, with his parents and brother, as Douglas became the first black woman to win the gold in the individual all-around competition.
Now that Douglas is a celebrated Olympic champion, her family won’t have to worry about money for some time as she could earn up to $90 million in endorsement deals, including the cover of Kellog’s corn flakes.
Check out some other stars with absentee father’s below. –nicholas robinson