Life has become quite “unmanageable” for celebrated Olympian Debi Thomas.
She made history at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, as the first African-American athlete to win a medal at any Winter Olympics. Although an unfortunate stumble cost her gold, the young figure skater took home the bronze medal for her performance in the ladies singles event.
After winning the accolade, Thomas retired from the sport and got her engineering degree from Stanford University. She then went on to get her medical degree from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and became an orthopedic surgeon.
She even opened her own private surgery in Richlands, Virginia. Her life looked exemplary. However, fast-forward 30 years, her life turned out to be very different than most expected.
The 48-year-old recently appeared in an episode of Iyanla: Fix My Life that airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network, and asked life coach Iyanla Vanzant for personal and financial help in getting her life back on track.
As it turns out, Thomas has not only lost her job, she is completely broke, is living in a bug-infested trailer at the Appalachian Mountains with her fiancé and two kids, and has lost custody of her teenage son.
So how did the history-making athlete go from having a thriving career to hitting rock bottom?
Well Thomas, who began ice-skating when she was just 5 years old and won a competition at the age of 9, revealed the success she once enjoyed caused her first marriage to fail. Her husband apparently could not handle her success, and she claimed she lost most of her “nest egg” in a second divorce.
“This is what I know: You’re living in a trailer in the Appalachian Mountains and your son ain’t with you!” exclaimed show’s host Vanzant, in a harsh yet straightforward manner, in a preview clip. “You’re raising somebody else’s children! So you can tell me whatever you want to tell me. Telling yourself the truth is important.”
Thomas told the host that she lost two jobs as an orthopedic surgeon due to “personality clashes,” claiming the high expectations she held herself led to arguments with colleagues. After the divorce from her second husband, she had to close her private practice, which left her in the midst of a financial crisis.
She also lost her 13-year-old son, Christopher Jules “Luc” Bequette, to her second husband.
As the Daily Mail reports, the former skater also attempted to collect donations through a GoFundMe page. The goal was to collect $10,000, but she only managed to collect a little over $3,000 after 10 months of struggle.
In a video on the page, Thomas said she was trying to restore “financial stability after severe sudden financial losses over the past couple of years associated with a combination of financially crippling life challenges.”
Although it’s unclear if anything’s being done to help Debi Thomas, hopefully the revelation of her tragic life story on media might help her get back on her feet.
After all, everyone deserves a second chance.