Few people in sport are born with the same pure talent as Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson. Indeed, she seemingly wasted no time taking prizes at some of the most prestigious sporting events in the world. And the gymnast also found success in her personal life when she married NFL player Andrew East in 2016.
However, Johnson’s YouTube channel took a serious turn in October 2017, as it was there that she revealed something heartbreaking. And that revelation was distressing enough, in fact, to bring a tear to your eye…
Way back when, though, Johnson was a star in the making. The gymnast looked destined for success in her chosen field when she was only 12 years old, in fact. At that age, she came in fourth in the Junior Olympics National Championships, after almost ten years of training.
At first, though, Johnson’s abilities went unnoticed by the USA Gymnastics governing body. Her coach had bigger things in mind for his child protégée, however, and he was prepared to go down a more nontraditional path to achieve them. Indeed, it’s fair to say that Johnson’s career trajectory wasn’t typical for an aspiring Olympic athlete.
Specifically, Johnson’s coach Liang Chow sent a video tape of her to the coordinator for the U.S. women’s gymnastics team. Also included was a note simply stating, “I believe this kid will help the U.S. team.” And, as it turned out, Johnson’s skills were considered so impressive that she was immediately seen as a serious contender for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
In fact, the then 16-year-old Johnson was duly entered into the Beijing Games and went on to surpass all expectations. Indeed, her hard work culminated in her scooping up four medals: one gold and three silver. And Johnson particularly impressed with her gold medal win – notching 16.225 points for her athletic display on the balance beam.
Then, after that monumental feat, Johnson took to TV, winning the eighth season of Dancing with the Stars. Sadly, however, an ACL tear derailed her gymnastics career before she could compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. In June 2012, moreover, Johnson declared that she would retire from the sport.
But while Johnson’s time as a professional gymnast unfortunately came to an abrupt end, her love life thankfully didn’t suffer the same fate. After starting a relationship with the Kansas City Chiefs’ Andrew East, Johnson faced a romantic proposal at a Cubs game in 2015 – and she said yes.
Then, a little under a year after first getting engaged, the two lovebirds got married in April of 2016. Soon after, she told People magazine of the occasion, “I’ve found my guy.” She added, “And he’s my best friend, so making it official is exciting.”
What’s more, it seems as if it wasn’t long before the married couple began thinking about expanding their family. And a new arrival looked to be on the cards in 2017. Indeed, in a YouTube video put out on Johnson’s channel, the Olympic gold medalist would reveal that she was pregnant.
That clip also chronicled the couple’s journey of discovery; on it, for example, Johnson explained that they hadn’t been purposely trying for a baby. And East was also taken aback by the news; he even deliberated whether he was ready to be a father. However, after Johnson began experiencing pains in her stomach, the couple had to visit the doctor.
And sadly, after Johnson was scanned, it was revealed that she was in fact miscarrying. The tragic news was broken to her by a doctor; he attempted to reassure her, however, by saying, “Number one is that you didn’t do anything.” Then he added, “Proximity to people that are smoking, or doing things that shouldn’t be done, didn’t cause this.”
The medical professional went on, “This was caused probably because chromosomally, it wasn’t normal, okay?” before saying, “So there’s no blaming each other.” And the tragic news capped off a difficult 48 hours for the couple. They had gone from the excitement of being prospective parents to being told that it wasn’t going to happen.
Indeed, the YouTube video – released in October 2017 – is a roller coaster ride of emotions. Johnson starts it off by talking about the importance of sharing their harrowing story, saying, “Today’s video is a little bit sensitive. It’s not the happiest video, but we feel like a lot of people go through this, so we wanted to share it.”
And she reaffirmed this statement on an Instagram post, commenting, “This is by far the hardest video we’ve ever posted, but we felt as though it was a story that needed to be shared, as so many struggle with the same thing.” However, the difficulty didn’t stop her from being thankful.
In fact, she rather sweetly tagged her husband in the Instagram update, telling him, “I love you more than anything in this world, and I know you are going to make the greatest daddy in the world someday. Thank you for being my rock through all of this.”
The couple finish the heartbreaking video, meanwhile, by showing some baby clothes that they purchased in anticipation of the birth. However, Johnson says in the clip, “We’ll use them again, of course.” Then she defiantly states, “It won’t stop us. We’ll start a family here soon.”
And the distraught Olympian’s heartbreak is palpable in the description to the video, too. In it, she wrote, “My husband Andrew and I found out that we were unexpectedly pregnant, only to find out hours later some tragic news. I have been crying more than I ever have but am still optimistic for what is next.”
That optimism, moreover, can be somewhat felt in a later video from the couple, updating fans on how things have been since they received their distressing news. Entitled “After the Miscarriage,” the footage features Johnson and East opening up about losing their child, with the former gymnast in particular expressing her guilt over the situation.
Specifically, Johnson says, “The day I was told we were miscarrying, I felt guilty. I felt sad and I remember telling Andrew, ‘I’m sorry I lost your baby.’ I felt like it was something that I did.” And while Johnson and East revealed that they are also still coming to terms with their loss, they are nevertheless grateful that they had each other during this tough time.
Notably, East says in the video, “Honestly, this made us so strong in our marriage. Like, we’re not the strongest in our marriage.” However, Johnson then interjects, “But we grew a lot together.” It’s heartwarming to know, then, that they are still able to take positives from even such a trying time in their lives.
And whatever life throws at the couple in the future, one thing’s for sure – Johnson’s ability to bounce back from everything that’s thrown her way is incredibly admirable. Whether it’s her career-ending injury or her tragic miscarriage, she is defiant in the face of adversity – and that’s something that we can all learn from.