Why Simone Biles Was 'Scared' To Introduce Now-Husband Jonathan Owens To Her Parents (2024)

If you’ve watched gymnastics G.O.A.T Simone Biles compete, you’ve probably seen the camera pan to the stands to show her parents, Nellie and Ronald Biles, cheering their girl on. Ronald even wore a “Team Simone” shirt as he and his wife cried and embraced after watching Simone win the all-around gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. It was a truly heartwarming moment.

Well, her family continues to support the 27-year-old as she makes her gymnastics dreams come true, and it’s so sweet to watch.

When Simone took her ninth all-around title at the U.S. Championships in June 2024, her mom and the rest of her family was shown smiling, clapping, and looking super proud.

Now, Simone is preparing for the 2024 Paris Olympics, and her parents are hyping her up from the stands once again. These two literally have a tradition that they kiss every time Simone successfully completes a routine, per Pop Sugar—and I'm certain it will only be *more* adorable in the city of love.

Simone has certainly had an eventful few years, and her parents have been right beside her every step of the way. In May 2023, she married NFL Player Jonathan Owens, and of course, her mom was right there beside her to help her plan the wedding.

Given Simone's super impressive track record, it’s only natural to wonder about the couple who raised her. So, who are Nellie and Ronald Biles? Here’s what you need to know about Simone Biles' parents:

Why Simone Biles Was 'Scared' To Introduce Now-Husband Jonathan Owens To Her Parents (2)

They’re not Simone’s biological parents.

Simone was born in Columbus, Ohio. Her mother struggled to care for Simone and her siblings, Simone shared on Dancing With the Stars in 2017. So, the people Simone calls "mom" and "dad" are Ronald, her maternal grandfather, and Nellie, his wife.

"Growing up, my biological mom was suffering from drug and alcohol abuse and she was in and out of jail," Simone said. "I never had mom to run to. I do remember always being hungry and afraid."

When Simone was living with her biological mom, she often didn't have enough food to eat, she shared in 2021 on the Facebook Watch series Simone Vs. Herself.

“Growing up, me and my siblings were so focused on food because we didn’t have a lot of food,” she said. “I remember there was this cat around the house and I’d be so hungry. They would feed this cat and I’m like, ‘Where the heck is my food?’ And so I think that’s where it stemmed where I don’t like cats is because this frickin’ street cat, she always fed it, but she never fed us.”

At 3 years old, Simone entered foster care. 

Why Simone Biles Was 'Scared' To Introduce Now-Husband Jonathan Owens To Her Parents (3)

"I don’t remember a lot about foster care, but I definitely knew that we had been taken from our biological mom and then you just think you’re going to go back to her,” Simone shared on Simone Vs. Herself.

But her grandparents were her bright spot, she said on Dancing with the Stars in 2017. “Whenever we had visits with my grandpa, I was so excited,” she said. “That was the person I always wanted to see walk into the foster home.”

Nellie and Ronald adopted Simone in 2003.

When Simone was five, Ronald and his wife Nellie adopted six-year-old Simone and her younger sister Adria after their mom struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, per Vanity Fair.

Ronald and Nellie raised the two girls alongside their two sons in the Houston suburb of Spring, Texas, Simone shared with the magazine. Meanwhile, Ronald's sister took in Simone’s two older siblings, Tevin and Ashley.

“We were very fortunate that we actually got to stay with our siblings because a lot of the time you either get regrouped from home to home to home or you and your siblings get split up,” she shared on Simone Vs. Herself.  

While appearing on Dancing With The Stars, Simone said her parents asked her to think of them as Mom and Dad when they adopted her.

"'OK, you know how you called us Grandma and Grandpa?'" she recalled them saying when she moved in. "'You can call us Mom and Dad now, if you want to.'"

"My parents saved me," she added. "They’ve set huge examples of how to treat other people, and they’ve been there to support me since day one. There’s nothing I could say to them to thank them enough."

Simone has reiterated this sentiment, sharing in 2021 that she wouldn’t be who she is today without her parents. "Being separated from my biological mom, being placed in foster care before I officially got adopted by my grandparents, it just set me up for a better route at life," she said on Simone Vs. Herself. "I feel like I wouldn't be where I am unless that turning point happened. I would still be Simone Biles, probably not Simone Biles that everybody else knows, the world knows."

Simone is super close with her parents and showers them with love on Instagram. "HAPPY FATHERS DAY TO THE BEST & SWEETEST DAD IN THE WORLD 🤎 I LOVE YOU!" she captioned a 202o Father's Day post.

Meanwhile, her mom got a birthday shoutout that same year: "thanks for making all things happen & being a rock in my life! Forever grateful for you! Can’t wait to celebrate you tonight!!"

Ronald and Nellie met when Nellie was in college.

Ronald was in the Air Force and raising Simone’s mother as a single dad at the time, according to an interview with ANDSCAPE.com, in collaboration with ESPN Magazine.

The couple got married on January 16, 1977, and later had their two sons of their own. Nellie worked as a nurse and co-owned a chain of nursing homes, and Ronald worked as an air traffic controller. They have both since retired, per the outlet.

Simone called them “couple goals” in an Instagram post from their 40th anniversary.

In Simone vs. Herself, a seven-part docuseries on Facebook Watch, Nellie shared that it was tough for her to bond with Simone and Adria at first since she was already raising two sons of her own. “I knew I had my own barriers because these were not my biological children. You do everything that’s nurturing, that’s mothering, but emotionally, you still have to be there 100%,” she said.

“I remember praying for that bonding,” Nellie continued. “Because telling them that you love them and you care for them; that’s all words. But then you wake up one day, and you realize that you would do anything for these children. And that you would die for these children. And when that feeling comes, that’s when you know you are truly a mother."

Simone’s biological mom, Shanon Biles, struggled to give up her children.

Shanon did an interview with the Daily Mail in 2016, explaining 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 [Ronald] didn’t want me coming in and out of their lives when I wasn’t right,” she added.

She's been sober since 2007 and has worked as a home-help aid. Shanon speaks with Simone regularly, but conversations are short. "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," she explains. "You go girl.'"

Simone’s biological father, Kelvin Clemons, is not in touch with his daughter. Though he's not in the athlete's life, "he knows that’s his daughter and he’s very proud of her," Shanon told the publication.

Simone’s parents played a key role in getting her into gymnastics.

When she was six years old, Ronald and Nellie enrolled Simone and Adria in gymnastics classes. “It was history from there," Nellie told PEOPLE in 2016. "She never missed a practice. Even if she was sick, I would tell her she should stay home, and she would say, 'No, I have to go to practice!’”

Simone credits her success to her parents' hard work.

“[They] support me in any way possible,” she told PEOPLE. “My parents make sure we have everything we need so that we compete to the best of our abilities.”

Simone told VF she was “blessed” she was able to participate in the sport. “Gymnastics is very expensive, and we’re so blessed that our parents could afford for us to do it.”

Simone's parents own a gymnastics center.

And Simone trains there, of course. "Representation matters, and we want to inspire the next generation to pursue their passion," Simone told Health, of training at her parents’ Black-owned gym. "Kids can come in and we will be training in the back, and they can see we are just like them. It helps them understand they can do it, too."

The aptly named World Champions Centre is 56,000 square feet and located in Simone's home town of Spring, Texas. It offers a wide variety of classes and training for all levels and ages.

The Tokyo Olympics was the first time Simone’s parents weren’t there to cheer her on.

Typically, Simone's parents attend all of her competitions. "She always knows where we are sitting, it doesn't matter the arena," Nellie told People in 2021. "If she's in a competition, she'll look and I'll wave and we make a connection."

But her parents weren't able to attend the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games due to COVID-19 restrictions, which was one of the most difficult parts of the competition for her. "We go over to Tokyo and no audience is allowed, we're quarantined in our rooms, and can only come out for breakfast, lunch and dinner," she told Brené Brown in 2022. "There was no camaraderie, and my parents weren't able to go there. My parents haven't missed a competition in my life."

However, Simone's family still played a key role in helping her recover from Tokyo's mental and physical challenges. The gymnast struggled with a gymnastics phenomenon called the “twisties” during the 2020 games, which causes her to lose sense of her body moving through the air and increases the risk of serious injury. In the Simone Vs. Herself, Nellie and Ronald FaceTime their daughter frequently to help her navigate these challenges. (She eventually pulled out of part of the competition.)

At the time, Simone shouted out her family on Instagram, with a photo of them all wearing matching t-shirts. "Thanks for making sacrifices since day 1 so I can live out my dream. but most importantly, thanks for always being there for me through all the highs and lows," she wrote on Instagram. "You guys are the absolute best. I love y'all."

They kept in close contact throughout the Games.

Nellie sweetly assuring her that the family was praying for her and that she needed to prioritize her own health. “You need to take care of you. I don’t want you going out there and hurting yourself,” Nellie said to Simone in a call during the documentary.

Simone's parents continued to stand by her at Tokyo...even if they weren't there in person. After winning a bronze medal for her balance beam routine (her first and final individual medal at this Olympics), the gymnast FaceTimed her parents, she revealed at a press conference.

"I was FaceTiming with my family. They had a little watch party at the house," Simone said, per People. "It was my mom, my dad, my brother, my sister-in-law, my godparents. They just wanted to say hi and stuff like that. But given the time change, they're 14 hours behind so usually at night, I'll FaceTime them or in the morning. Almost every day I've gotten to talk to them which has been nice and reassuring."

They even stuck by her through the sudden death of her aunt, People reported. Simone's coach, Cecile Canqueteau-Landi, said the athlete got the news right after her beam performance. "That was another one, I was like, 'Oh my God. This week needs to be over,'" Landi said. "I asked her what do you need. And she said, 'I just need some time.'"

"She called her parents," Landi continued. "She said, 'There's nothing I can do from over here. So I'm just going to finish my week and when I get home we'll deal with it.'"

When she got off the plane from Tokyo, her parents were there to tearfully greet her at the airport.

Simone was nervous to introduce her parents to Jonathan Owens.

Simone has shared that she was “scared” to introduce her now-husband Jonathan Owens to her parents. “Mama Biles, I can’t tell you how scared I was to take him over there,” Simone said in her Facebook Watch series. “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. You know, my parents are a little harsh.’ I was like, ‘So don’t worry if they don’t like you.’”

But Simone said it all worked out in the end. "Then he met my brother, met my family. And then it just clashed really well and I was like, ‘Wow,’" she recalled. "Now they invite him over. One time, he went over there without me!"

Nellie helped Simone plan her wedding.

Simone got engaged to Jonathan in 2022 after dating for two years. Before their wedding in May 2023, Simone told People her mother had helped her plan the special day.

"My mom gives me advice on everything ... I look to both her and my dad as role models in many ways, but also as examples of what a strong base of love and support looks like. She's someone I can bounce things off of and has been letting me do my thing as I figure out what works for us," Simone said. "We are so excited to celebrate with our close circle, and she's a big part of that."

On May 6, 2023, Ronald and Nellie attended Simone’s wedding.

Ronald even walked Simone down the aisle at her wedding in Cabo San Lucas, per People.

Stay tuned for more sweet updates on Simone's parents as the road to Paris continues...

Why Simone Biles Was 'Scared' To Introduce Now-Husband Jonathan Owens To Her Parents (11)

Korin Miller

Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual health and relationships, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamour, and more. She has a master’s degree from American University, lives by the beach, and hopes to own a teacup pig and taco truck one day.

Why Simone Biles Was 'Scared' To Introduce Now-Husband Jonathan Owens To Her Parents (2024)
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