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Standing on the Olympic Podium laced with two gold medals at this year’s London games, Gabby Douglas became America’s sweetheart. And with that newfound fame, comes the back story and digging.

It’s inevitable: once you’re in the public spotlight, stories will get written about your life, whether you like it or not.

So what’s Gabby’s story?

Well, we know that she moved from Virginia Beach to Des Moines, Iowa, to train for two years, and it was reported that her mother filed for bankruptcy. The newest allegations regarding her father, Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Timothy Douglas, called him a deadbeat dad, with a NY Post headline that read: “Douglas dad’s a gym ‘rat.'”

When it comes to families, the whole story should be accurate, and labeling someone a deadbeat dad is unfair.

From what I’ve read, Gabby’s had nothing but glowing words for her father. She told NBC: 

“I just had to pray to God just to keep him safe and tell the angels to keep my dad safe and come home.”

And in turn, he has had glowing words for his daughter, telling the Des Moines Register: 

“I just missed her so much…it’s just so thrilling what’s going on. There’s a feeling that you can’t describe.”

So why is Douglas being labeled a deadbeat? We have to be very careful about how we use that term, considering much of the info on Gabby’s life is merely speculative, and only Timothy Douglas and Natalie Hawkins, Gabby’s mom, know the true story.

From what Gabby has said about her father, I don’t think she considers him a deadbeat dad, but more of a father who was serving in the military and wasn’t around.

And honestly, her opinion about her father is the only one that counts.

My father made periodic visits throughout my childhood and I haven’t seen him in about 15 years, but I never considered him a deadbeat, nor hold any animosity toward him. In fact, I called him to tell him he was going to be a grandfather.

But in many cases, deadbeat dads do deserve that label. If you are more than willing and able to provide for your child and you don’t, you’re a deadbeat.

The circumstances surrounding Gabby, her father and mother are all speculative and we may never know what really went down. But think about this: if Timothy Douglas were a deadbeat father, he wouldn’t be showing up to any of Gabby’s events cheering her on; deadbeat dads don’t do that. Furthermore, Gabby would hold it against him and as of now, it doesn’t seem that she is. Let Gabby, and her pops, live. 


Shaka Griffith is the News/Politics Editor of Follow him on Twitter @Darealshaka

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