Golden girl Simone Biles’ ex-addict birth mom reveals bitter family rift after she was forced to give the Olympian up for adoption to her own mother and father
Even though she’s not in Rio de Janeiro to watch her daughter win Olympic gold from the stands, the biological mother of Simone Biles is bursting with pride – and grateful that she and her daughter have reconciled after being estranged for so much of the gymnast’s young life.
Shanon Biles is watching the 19-year-old athlete compete far from the feverish excitement of the Rio Olympic Arena from the TV in her house in a quiet neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio.
It’s been a difficult road for Shanon, 44, to build a fledgling relationship with her superstar daughter.
Simone was six when she was adopted, along with her younger sister Adria, by her maternal grandfather, Ronald Biles, and his wife Nellie.
Shanon’s eldest boy and girl, Tevon and Ashley, were taken in by Ronald’s sister.
Her family were forced to step in when Shanon could no longer take care of her four children due to her drug and alcohol addictions. They had spent their early years in and out of foster care in Ohio.
Biological mother: Shanon Biles, 44, is watching her daughter Simone compete in Rio from her home in Ohio
Superstar: Simone Biles poses with her gold medal in Rio on Tuesday. Shanon knew the world champion gymnast would once again take Olympic gold
Family photo: Shanon Biles pictured with three of her children – Tevon (left), Simone (center) and Ashley (right)
Destined for greatness: Shanon said Simone had always been ‘running and climbing and jumping’. ‘From the time she was a little, she was climbing the monkey bars’. Simone is pictured on a jungle gym as a young girl
It would be six years before Shanon would see her children again – a decision made by her father Ron which she now admits she took very badly.
In an exclsuive interview Shanon told Daily Mail Online: ‘When we signed the [adoption] papers, it was like my dad flipped a switch on me – no communication, don’t call, and don’t visit. That’s how it was at the beginning.
‘It took me six years before I saw my children again. I was respecting my Dad to let the kids’ transition, he felt that was the best thing for them.
‘It was hard to give up my kids but I had to do what I had to, I wasn’t able to care for them.
‘I was still using and he didn’t want me coming in and out of their lives when I wasn’t right.
Mother and Daughter: Simone is pictured here with her mother Shanon, who says she would like the relationship with her daughter to develop
Siblings: Shanon’s family were forced to step in when she could no longer take care of her four children. Pictured: Simone and Tevon
‘I was hard-headed, I didn’t care, screaming, “I want to see my kids, why you doing this to me?”
‘I didn’t understand it at the time but years later, I understood why. I had to deal with me first.’
She told TMZ Sports her father was insensitive in the way he described her battle with addiction in an interview.
Simone’s biological father, Kelvin Clemons, also struggled with his own addictions. Shanon said the pair met as teenagers.
Clemons, who lives in Cleveland, is not in touch with Simone but Shanon speaks with him occasionally on the phone. Their conversations revolve around how well Simone and the rest of their children are doing.
‘He just called me Sunday. I said, “I’m watching Simone are you watching her? Are you watching her? Call me back later.”
‘He knows that’s his daughter and he’s very proud of her.’
Shanon told Daily Mail Online that now Simone is older, she would like to open up to her about that dark time in her life.
Golden: Team USA took home the gold medal for the women’s team final on Tuesday in Rio. Above U.S. gymnasts, left to right, Gabrielle Douglas, Lauren Hernandez, Aly Raisman and Simone Biles celebrate
All smiles: From left to right, Simone Biles, Gabrielle Douglas and Madison Kocian wave to the audience at the end of the women’s team final on Tuesday
‘When I talk to Simone, it’s a brief conversation, like, “I miss you, I love you, I can’t wait to see you, I’m proud of you, I’m watching. You go girl.”
‘It’s never anything personal. I want to tell her what really happened when I was younger but I keep on waiting for the right time.
‘My dad and his wife, they don’t let me talk about it. And I want to keep that respect. I don’t want to overstep my boundaries with my dad because I appreciate everything he has done.’
Shanon also spoke of her deep admiration for Nellie.
‘It takes a hell of a woman to raise her husband’s child’s children. I’m very blessed and thankful for that. It was the right thing at the time,’ she said.
In recent years, Shanon’s life has improved and she says she has been sober since 2007. She has worked as a home-help aid in a private residence taking care of four elderly people.
She shares her home with her two youngest children and is close with their father, Michael Walker.
Adopted parents: Simone was six when she was adopted by her maternal grandfather, Ronald Biles, and his wife Nellie (pictured together in July 2016)
Sisters: Simone (left) was adopted, along with her younger sister Adria (right). Shanon could no longer take care of her four children due to her drug and alcohol addictions
Shanon said: ‘I am doing fine. I’m working, I’m blessed and I have my children with me.
‘I’ve come along way. I’ve struggled but I’ve made it through the storm.’
But she longs for a closer relationship with her elder children – and feels she owes them an explanation for the past.
She added: ‘There’s a lot of stuff I want to talk to Simone about but I’ve been respecting them [Ronald and Nellie].
‘I feel like I have no rights. They were raising her, working with her, doing this and that.
‘And who am I? I’m outside looking in. Even though I’m her biological mom, I have to respect them.’
Simone and Adria were raised in the small town of Spring, Texas and came to call their grandparents ‘mom and dad’. They enrolled her in gymnastics aged six after she became enthralled with the sport
Routine: Simone Biles (above) scored a 15.300 on the balance beam for the women’s finals on Tuesday in Rio
Biles is currently the three-time, reigning world champion and holds the record for most gold medals – ten – won by a female gymnast in the history of the World Championships.
Shanon said that Simone had always been ‘running and climbing and jumping’.
‘From the time she was a little, she was climbing the monkey bars. She’s just humble. It’s like it’s nothing to her because it’s in her blood.
‘That’s what she was meant to be and meant to do. It’s always been in her.’
Shanon said that all her six children were sporty and that she herself played soccer, volleyball and basketball at school. She also competed in track – and even briefly did gymnastics.
The football and basketball trophies of her two youngest – Taron, 12, and nine-year-old Shania – are proudly displayed in her dining room.
Shanon’s eldest daughter, Ashley, lives nearby in Columbus with her seven-year-old daughter, Nicari. Her son Tevon, 21, is in the Army.
Shanon last spoke with Simone around six weeks ago.
Gold medal winner: USA gymnast Simone Biles performs a floor exercise routine at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio
‘We were briefly on the phone but she’s been very busy. We spoke right before she went to camp to prepare for the Olympics – I spoke to her and Adria.
‘I said, “I love you, I’m proud of you, I miss you, can’t wait to see you.” She said “I love you too”.
Shanon said she would have loved to have seen her daughter compete in the Olympics but couldn’t afford to travel to Rio. Ronald and Nellie have made the journey along with Shanon’s younger brother and his wife.
‘I couldn’t afford it and it’s a lot of pressure for her. You always have a bond with your child but with us not growing up together, I don’t want to make her nervous, get her out of character. I’m just here, yelling, “Go Simone!” at the TV.’
She held an Olympic viewing party on Sunday for family and friends – and keeps Simone’s ‘Special K’ box pride of place in the kitchen [the gymnast is sponsored by Kellogg’s and got her very own limited-edition cereal box cover in June].
Shanon said: ‘At work, they know all about it and they can’t believe that’s my daughter. I’m always saying “watch my baby, watch my baby.”
‘Once I tell them, and they start researching, then they know about my past, and come back to me saying “You used to be like that?”
‘But I’m not that person anymore. Judge me on who I am today.’
Adopted father: Simone Biles (right) with Adria Biles and Ron Biles, who adopted them with his wife Nellie
Father: Simone’s biological father, Kelvin Clemons (pictured left), also struggled with his own addictions. Shanon Biles is pictured around the age that Simone is now
Shanon and Simone last met in 2014 when Simone competed – and won gold in vault and floor events – at the P&G Championships in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Prior to that, they were together on a family cruise in 2010.
The 44-year-old would like to see her relationship with her daughter develop but is conscious of her commitments.
‘I’ll see her when I see her. I’d like to pick up the phone, talk, go out to lunch if that’s what she wants.
‘But I don’t want to be hawking her and stalking her because she’s the champion of the world.
‘She’s my daughter, I can have her anytime.’
But there is one thing Shannon’s certain of – which gymnast will be top of the podium.
‘She’s bringing home gold,’ she said.