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Gabby Douglas’ mom: Leslie Jones ‘came to the rescue’ in Rio

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Gabby Douglas‘ mom said comedian Leslie Jones triggered the biggest display of kindness she and her daughter felt during a difficult time at the Rio Olympics.

“A lot of what I’ve seen and we’ve encountered [on social media] and experienced has been negativity,” Natalie Hawkins said on a Share Kindness panel with Lady Gaga‘s mom and the Today Show parenting team on Wednesday. “I know it wasn’t the whole world, but it sort of felt like it was. We couldn’t go on her time feed without seeing just the most hateful, the most disgusting things.

“Leslie Jones who kind of came to the rescue with the #LoveforGabby hashtag. … That was glorious, in fact. It went so far in making our family feel so much better. It was so hard to see so many people weighing in with so many hateful things and not one ounce of compassion.”

Hawkins said she made a mistake in telling her daughter to “suck it up” when the criticism was affecting her.

“If this is going on at your job, how well would you be sucking it up,” Douglas told her.

“Knowing me and my personality, I wouldn’t have sucked it up,” Hawkins said. “I would have marched down to HR and demand that something be done, and I would not have rested until it was.

“I actually learned a lesson, that you can’t sweep it under the rug.”

Hawkins said she was more proud of Douglas enduring tough competitions in her comeback than during her triumph at the 2012 Olympics.

“You were more of a champion to me in those moments than when you stood on the podium and got a gold medal in London,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins, a single mom, reflected on raising her four kids — Douglas and her three older siblings, sisters Arielle and Joyelle and brother Johnathan.

Douglas left her family in Virginia at age 14 in October 2010 to train with coach Liang Chow in West Des Moines, Iowa.

One story in particular about the London Olympic all-around champion learning about another mom who was struggling to provide for her children:

“When she found out about it, she immediately got online and got them some things,” Hawkins said. “And I think the thing that touched me the most is that she could have gotten those items for free, because she had a partnership, but she said it didn’t feel like a gift. She wanted to take from her own abundance now and share it with someone else.”

Douglas has not publicly said if or when she will return to gymnastics.

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Mary Bono resigns as USA Gymnastics president, addresses Nike tweet

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Mary Bono resigned as USA Gymnastics interim CEO and president Monday, four days after being appointed to the role.

“It is with profound regret, coupled with a deep love for the sport of gymnastics and respect for those who aspire to be great gymnasts, that I today tendered my resignation as the interim CEO of USA Gymnastics,” Bono said in a statement, first reported by CNN. “My withdrawal comes in the wake of personal attacks that, left undefended, would have made my leading USAG a liability for the organization.”

USA Gymnastics later confirmed, saying, “despite her commitment to the sport of gymnastics and helping the organization move forward, we believe this is in the best interest of the organization.”

Bono, who replaced Kerry Perry, who resigned in September, received criticism for a September photo of herself drawing over a Nike logo on a golf shoe tweeted from her account shortly after Nike debuted its advertising campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Notably, Olympic all-around champion Simone Biles tweeted, “*mouth drop* don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything.” Nike is one of Biles’ sponsors.

Biles is among the more than 200 women who have come forward over the last two years claiming they were sexually abused by former team doctor Larry Nassar under the guise of treatment. Biles was critical of Perry for not being vocal enough in support of the survivors.

Bono deleted her tweet about five hours later, saying she regretted the post and respects “everyone’s views & fundamental right to express them.”

“With respect to Mr. Kaepernick, he nationally exercised his first amendment right to kneel,” the 57-year-old Bono said in Tuesday’s statement. “I exercised mine: to mark over my own golf shoes, the logo of the company sponsoring him for ‘believing in something even if it means sacrificing everything’ — while at a tournament for families who have lost a member of the armed services (including my brother-in-law, a Navy SEAL) who literally ‘sacrificed everything.’ It was an emotional reaction to the sponsor’s use of that phrase that caused me to tweet, and I regret that at the time I didn’t better clarify my feelings. That one tweet has now been made the litmus test of my reputation over almost two decades of public service. I remain as dedicated as ever to the sport of gymnastics and its devotees. I hope USAG will do all it can to support them.”

Bono, a former Republican congresswoman and youth gymnast, also received backlash from the gymnastics community for working with Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, which advised USA Gymnastics when gymnasts reported Nassar sexual abuse, according to the Indianapolis Star.

“My teammates & I reported Nassar’s abuse to USAG in 2015,” was tweeted from Olympic champion Aly Raisman‘s account on Monday. “We now know USOC & lawyers at Faegre Baker Daniels (Mary Bono’s firm) were also told then, yet Nassar continued to abuse children for 13 months!? Why hire someone associated with the firm that helped cover up our abuse?”

Bono said she “proudly” stood behind her body of work at Faegre Baker Daniels, “and appreciated how much the law firm supported my devoting considerable time to the cause of addiction prevention, treatment and recovery,” according to the statement.

“My regret is that I would have brought to the organization, the angst and anger of my own story: a young aspiring gymnast who witnessed first-hand the assaulting behavior of a coach; watched peers who acquiesced in it move ahead while those who didn’t were left behind, and myself stayed silent — perhaps the norm then, but very troubling to me to this day,” Bono said in her statement. “I would have brought a fire in the belly to ensure that no one as taken with gymnastics as I was at that age, should have to choose between abuse and ambition, or between properly speaking out and promoting personal success.”

Bono spent 15 years as a U.S. Representative from Southern California from 1998-2013. She won her first term in a special election running as a Republican to fill the vacancy left by the death of her husband, former pop star and lawmaker Sonny Bono.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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How to watch 2018 Skate America

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Nathan Chen headlines as the U.S. champions in all four disciplines are in action at Skate America, opening the Grand Prix season, live on NBC Sports with the entire event streamed live for NBC Sports Gold “Figure Skating Pass” subscribers this weekend.

Chen, who rebounded from finishing fifth in PyeongChang to win the world title by the largest margin in history, can become the first U.S. man to repeat as Skate America champ since Timothy Goebel in 2000 and 2001. His competition includes Olympic teammate Vincent Zhou, who was sixth in PyeongChang.

Bradie Tennell, after beating Olympic silver medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva for her first senior international title last month, also returns to Skate America, where she burst onto the scene last year with a bronze medal. Japanese Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto, who went one-two at 2017 Skate America, return.

In ice dance, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue look to follow up their first national title and a world silver medal by becoming the 10th straight U.S. couple to win Skate America.

U.S. pairs champs Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim will have their hands full with two-time world medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia. A U.S. pair hasn’t won a Grand Prix series event of any kind in 12 years.

Skate America TV/Stream schedule (all times ET)
Friday
Pairs Short Program — 10:30 p.m. (GOLD, LIVE)

Saturday
Men’s Short Program — 12 a.m. (GOLD, LIVE)
Pairs Free Skate — 4:25 p.m. (GOLD, LIVE)
Men’s Free Skate — 6:03 p.m. (GOLD, LIVE)
Men’s Free Skate — 6-8 p.m. (NBCSN, LIVE)
Women’s Short Program — 10:19 p.m. (GOLD, LIVE)

Sunday
Rhythm Dance — 12:10 a.m. (GOLD, LIVE)
Men’s Free Skate/Highlights — 12:30-1:30 p.m. (NBC)
Free Dance — 2:12 p.m. (GOLD, LIVE)
Women’s Free Skate — 4-6 p.m. (NBCSN and GOLD, LIVE)

As a reminder, you can watch the ISU Grand Prix Series live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold….go to NBCsportsgold.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season…NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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