In 1988, one stumble kept Debi Thomas from standing atop the podium for figure skating at the Winter Olympics in Calgary, taking home the bronze instead.
Now, 27 years later, a series of subsequent missteps have led to the former athlete living jobless and penniless in a bed bug-infested trailer.
Thomas, who made history as the first African-American athlete to medal at any Winter Games, has turned to life coach Iyanla Vanzant to get her life back on track. Thomas’s fall from grace will be documented in Saturday night’s episode of “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” which will air on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Thomas, a New York native who started figure skating when she was five years old, was studying engineering at Stanford University when she won both the US and World Championships in 1986.
She wed her first husband before competing at the Olympics two years later. They divorced after just three years; Thomas claims it was because he couldn’t handle her success.
After retiring from skating, Thomas became a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, but repeatedly argued with colleagues and was fired from two jobs. She opened a private practice and married her second husband. Another divorce followed, and the private practice closed after just two years, leaving her financially ruined.
She lost custody of her 13-year-old son, Christopher Jules Bequette, from her second marriage, and currently lives in a trailer park with her alcoholic fiancé, Jamie Looney — who is battling anger issues — and his two sons.
The couple created a GoFundMe page in December 2014, but was only able to raise $2,000.
Thomas was inducted into the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2000. Via: NYP