After scoring a few gold medals at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas may not have 99 problems, but her daddy sure is one.
For much of Gabby’s Olympic journey, her father has been out of the picture. Her mother, Natalie Hawkins, said she raised Gabby as a “single mother,” but that’s not exactly the whole story.
Gabby’s father is Sgt. Timothy Douglas of the Air National Guard and he’s currently in the middle of a divorce from Gabby’s mother.
There haven’t been a ton of details as to why the pair is divorcing, but Gabby did reveal a bit in recent interviews about what her family history has been like.. And unfortunately, it’s a story in which her father only made cameo appearances.
As a military man, Sgt. Douglas was in and out of his daughter’s life as he went on several deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to The Daily Mail.
While you might expect that the story of a father who charges off to war would leave his family filled with nothing but pride and patriotism, that’s not the case. Sgt. Douglas apparently wasn’t keeping up with his child support payments, as Gabby revealed to The New York Post.
“It was really hard for us growing up — my dad had left us, so he wasn’t really in the picture anymore,” Douglas, 16, said yesterday.
“So my mom had to front all these bills. My dad didn’t really pay the child support. He was short [on money]. It was definitely hard on her part, and she had to take care of me and the rest of my siblings.’’
In addition to the lack of funds, concern for her father’s safety and life left Gabby conflicted about forging ahead with her gymnastics career, said her sister.
Earlier this year, she twisted her ankle at the Pacific Rim Championships in March. Her father’s absence and her injury caused her to contemplate quitting.
“It was pretty drastic. She really, really sounded very serious about it,” said Gabby’s sister, Arielle Hawkins. She forged ahead anyway, competing with a heavy weight on her heart.
There is a somewhat happy ending here. Shortly before she went off to London for the Games, Gabby was surprised by her father at the Olympic trials in June.
He carried the U.S. flag with a message on it that said, “Go, Gabby Douglas! Love, Dad, Family and Friends.” (see below)
Since Gabby’s parents are divorcing, things might be messy for a while in the Douglas family, but hopefully Gabby and her father can build the close father-daughter connection they deserve in the near future.