Gabby Douglas

From a poor girl in Virginia Beach to an Olympic Champion

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"Hard days are the best because that's when champions are made. If you push through the hard days, you can make it through anything." -Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas


Gabrielle Victoria Christina Douglas was born on December 31, 1995. Her mother almost bled to death that day. When she was a baby, she was diagnosed with a rare blood disease called Branched Chain Ketoaciduria. It prevents people from developing the certain type of protein that they need to. Even when her mother would feed her, she would throw up the food and was always losing weight. Not to mention the fact that her family had no money and they were living in the family SUV at the time. They were very poor and didn't have any health insurance. Her mother is a devoted Christian, so she read bible verses, prayed, and it worked! Gabby got bigger and stronger by the day. Her family's financial situation eventually got better too.

The Making of a Gymnast

Her first experience in gymnastics came when she was 4 years old. Her older sister Arielle taught her how to do a cartwheel. Her sister noticed that Gabby had a gift and begged her mom to let Gabby take gymnastics. Her mother was hesitant about letting her participate because Arielle had broken a few bones participating in this particular sport. She finally let Gabby give it a try. She began to take formal gymnastics at age 6. Nearly 2 years later, she was named the Virginia State Gymnastics Champion.

Never Give Up

When she was 14, she moved to West Des Moines, Iowa to train with a well known coach named Liang Chow. This wasn't an easy decision to make when it came to her mother because like other mothers, it's not easy to send your child to live in a different state all alone. Gabby's sisters helped convince their mother to let her go and her mom finally said yes. She lived with Travis and Missy Parton and they served as her host family. They had 4 other daughters so it was like having her sisters with her. Moving to Iowa was the right decision because she continued to soar in gymnastics.

She even became a member of the U.S. team for the Olympics. Then, things began to take a downward for her because she became homesick. She even wanted to quit gymnastics at one point. After the important people in her life talked to her and reminded her how hard she worked to get to that point of her life, she decided to keep going. Gabby Douglas and her team won the Olympics and she became the first African American woman in history to become the Individual All Around Champion. She made an autobiography about her life called "Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith. Gabby will be participating in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.


People underestimated her because of her height. During her journey to the Olympics, people tried to discourage her and keep her from reaching her goal. People said her nose was too flat, she was too short. People even made fun of her hair because they felt it didn't look right during the Olympics! She broke her leg a few months before the Olympics. She even doubted herself at one point and wanted to quit the Olympics Team!


She kept pushing and was determined to prove the people who doubted her wrong. She ignored the people that talked about her on Twitter when it came to her hair. She knew that she was doing something that could change her life forever so who cared what anyone had to say about her hair? She continued to keep pushing even when her leg was broken. She silenced the doubt that started creeping in. She had a lot of hard days, but overcame them because she knew that it would all be worth it soon.


  • She and the U.S. team won the Olympics
  • She was named the Virginia State Champion at age 8.
  • She became the first African American woman to become the Individual All Around Champion.
  • She and the U.S. team won the finals at the 2011 World Artistic Gymnastic Championships in Tokyo Japan.
  • She has her own autobiography called Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith
  • A Lifetime movie was made about her called "The Gabby Douglas Story".
  • She is competing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio this Summer!

Fun Fact

Gabby's gold medal is actually made out of dark chocolate, wrapped in gold foil.

She is 4'11.

Flying Squirrel Gabby Douglas