Where Is Apolo Anton Ohno’s Mom?
You’ve heard of soccer moms, right? They stand on the sidelines in shirts that have their kid’s name sewn on it and hand out orange slices at halftime. In our society, we expect to see Mom cheering her champ on, cooking big pasta feeds the night before a game and laundering a grass-stained uniform. Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps’ mom is his biggest fan (while his father is not much a part of his life). So where’s Olympic gold medalist Apolo Anton Ohno’s mom? I, you and all of Google have been wondering.
According to an article published in The New York Times, Apolo’s father, Yuki, won custody of his son when Apolo was just a baby. His mother, Jerrie Lee, left early on, and Yuki worked 12-hour days as a hairstylist to raise the infant who would ultimately become a world-class athlete. Apolo spent many days in the back of a hair salon watching his father trim, style and mousse.
Yuki told Sports Illustrated in 2002 that “fatherhood was a mystery. I was incompetent. I didn’t think I could pull this thing off.” I smile warmly at that. I think parenthood, especially single parenthood, is a mystery, and we’re all learning as we go. I recently sought solace in a large bag of M&Ms that I’d bought specifically to potty-train JD with. (I told him if he went pee-pee in the potty he could have one. Apparently he didn’t fall for my shameless bribery. I ate a lot of M&Ms last night. A lot.) Today, his school is closed because there is a blizzard and I have work to do–which will be hard to do with blondie running around.
Except for a few photographs, Apolo has never even seen, let alone met, his mother and has no interest in learning more about her. I can see why, too. Sometimes reality outweighs curiosity–an adult left a baby. Yuki says of his son’s mother: “It’s insignificant to what he is now.” So what does Apolo think of the single parent who raised him? “He’s really been the backbone of my support group. He knows when I’m up and when I’m down.” Apolo also says his relationship with his father is more friendship than child-parent these days.
Were you raised by a single parent because the other parent left? Did you ever go looking for the parent who left? Why or why not? Did the parent who left show up when he or she heard of your success?
***My friend Matt is a single dad (JD and his daughter Maddy went on a Disney Cruise together!). Visit his blog at MattLogelin.com
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