Simone Biles, who had to give up public school to focus on elite gymnastics, sent her well wishes to the Class of 2020 during a special virtual Facebook graduation event on Friday.
“As an athlete, there’s nothing quite like the bus ride home after a win,” Biles said 90 minutes into the online event. “You’re exhausted and could probably use a shower. OK, if you just finished competing, you definitely need a shower, but bottom line, you’re happy. Well graduates, today is your bus ride home, your victory lap, and it’s our chance to tell you that we know how hard you worked to bring home that diploma. I know you’re missing what was supposed to be your medal ceremony, but that ceremony doesn’t change a thing. You’ve already won. So today let’s celebrate that. We are so proud of everything you’ve accomplished. Congratulations to all the graduates out there. You did it.”
Biles, the 23-year-old, four-time Rio Olympic champion, recorded a video to join celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Miley Cyrus as part of the Facebook event.
Almost a decade ago, Biles made the difficult decision to home school for high school rather than attend a traditional school setting in the Houston area.
“All my friends went” to public school, she said in 2016, according to the Washington Post. “The football games, just being a normal kid — I don’t think anyone really wants to be home-schooled by themselves for four years.”
When Biles earned her diploma in the summer of 2015, her mom, Nellie, asked if she made the right decision, according to the Post.
“Well, mom,” she reportedly said, via Nellie, “I have lost so much. By giving up public school, I lost a lot of friends because we don’t have the same interests. I don’t do this ‘hanging out,’ whatever that is. I’ve never gone to someone’s party, so I don’t know what they do there. And I’ve never gone to a homecoming; never a prom.”
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Class of 2020, @Simone_Biles is here to lead you through your victory lap, reminding you that you don’t need a medal to feel accomplished, you’ve already won! Celebrate #Graduation2020 pic.twitter.com/gZBFuI44qB
— facebookwatch (@FacebookWatch) May 15, 2020