Gabby Douglas' Mom Defends Gymnast After Being "Bullied" in Rio: "What Did She Ever Do to Anyone?"

Olympic athlete recently received controversy during a medal ceremony

By Mike Vulpo Aug 15, 2016 1:45 AMTags

Gabby Douglas' mom has a message to the critics: Stop bullying my daughter.

As Team USA's gymnastics team continues to compete in the Summer Olympic Games, Natalie Hawkins is standing up for a team member who has experienced some criticism during her time in Rio.

"She's had to deal with people criticizing her hair, or people accusing her of bleaching her skin. They said she had breast enhancements, they said she wasn't smiling enough, she's unpatriotic," Gabby's mom shared with Reuters. "Then it went to not supporting your teammates. Now you're ‘Crabby Gabby.' You name it and she got trampled. What did she ever do to anyone?"

Some viewers got upset with the gold medalist on August 9 when Gabby failed to place her hand over her heart as the national anthem played in the background. Despite a public apology, it wasn't enough for some fans to avoid voicing their frustrations.

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"I don't think respecting your country or your flag boils down to whether you put your hand over your heart or not. It's in your actions towards your country, how well are you abiding by its laws, how well are you helping your fellow citizens?" Natalie shared with the publication. "We grew up in the military community. My mum spent almost 30 years in the military, my dad's a two-time Vietnam vet. Because of that it was so insulting that they would accuse my daughter of being unpatriotic when we are so tied to the military family. When the Star Spangled Banner is played, most military members either salute or stand to attention."

Later on in the games, more fans were left wondering why Gabby didn't deliver a standing ovation once her teammates Aly Raisman and Simone Biles won silver and gold respectively in Thursday's all-around competition.

Ultimately, Natalie argues that the attacks on social media and online have an effect on her 20-year-old family member.

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"We've been brought to many tears because I don't know what she's done to warrant such an attack. To me it looks like she is being bullied," she proclaimed. "What I saw in the stands was someone who was hurting and she was also angry. What was going through her head was 'I'm being attacked for everything I do so I might as well not do anything. Because no matter what I do, I am being attacked.'"

Natalie continued, "I want ... people to show me if they have ever seen Gabrielle being disrespectful ... or say something inappropriate. There is nothing because for her being a role model is such a supreme honor."

While Gabby was unable to walk away with a medal Sunday in the uneven bars competition, her mom will always remain a true fan. "It's a huge honor for me to be her mother as she's the bravest person I know."

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