Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith

Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith

4.8 112
by Gabrielle Douglas, Michelle Burford

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In the 2012 London Olympics, US gymnast Gabrielle Douglas stole hearts and flew high as the All-Around Gold Medal winner, as well as acting as a critical member of the US gold-medal-winning women gymnastics team. In this personal autobiography, Gabrielle tells her story of faith, perseverance, and determination, demonstrating you can reach your dreams if you let


In the 2012 London Olympics, US gymnast Gabrielle Douglas stole hearts and flew high as the All-Around Gold Medal winner, as well as acting as a critical member of the US gold-medal-winning women gymnastics team. In this personal autobiography, Gabrielle tells her story of faith, perseverance, and determination, demonstrating you can reach your dreams if you let yourself soar.

Editorial Reviews

"Gabby" Douglas won't turn seventeen until the last day of 2012, but this zestful American gymnast has already made Olympic history several times over. As a member of "the Fierce Five," she helped her team bring home the gold in London, but she also soared as she won the coveted All-Around championship. This is her inspiring autobiography.

Publishers Weekly
An effervescent first-person account of 2012 Olympic gold medalist Douglas's life from birth to the Olympics written in collaboration with Burford, this book will capture the attention of sports enthusiasts and Douglas's admirers. Gabrielle "Brie" emerges as an exuberant young woman with a sense of humor. Of her start in gymnastics, Brie suggests her mother was willing to enroll her and three siblings in class because her mother "needed a long nap." Her confidence, focus, and determination come through in every sentence. On occasion poetic descriptions obtrude ("glistening flakes fell from the heavens") on usually colloquial prose ("Lol"). Douglas mentions the lows-her family lived in their van for months when she was an infant-and bullying, but never dwells on them. The story gives readers a feel for the mind of a champion-quick, determined, hard-working to the max, with the ego to withstand unstinting self-evaluation and criticism, always in the service of achieving her next goal. Supported by her mother and siblings, and by her strong faith in God, she sees herself as capable of achieving greatness "because God has equipped me with all I need to succeed." Overall, the book delivers. Poster included. Ages 8-up.
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Read an Excerpt

Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith

By Gabrielle Douglas Michelle Burford


Copyright © 2012 Gabrielle Douglas
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-74061-2

Chapter One

By His stripes we are healed. —Isaiah 53:5, NKJV

My mother almost died on the day she had me: December 31, 1995. As Mom gripped the arm rails of her hospital bed in Newport News, Virginia, a doctor and nurse tripped over themselves trying to stop her from bleeding to death. No one could figure out exactly why she was hemorrhaging so badly, but they finally gave Mom a series of medications that made her blood clot. An hour later, a nurse bundled me up and placed my six-pound, five-ounce body in Mom's arms—that warm spot I've returned to a thousand times since.

Back then, cash was tight. Very tight. I'm the baby in my family, and that made me the last of four mouths to feed. Since three of those mouths arrived back to back (Mom was prego every year between 1993 and 1995, and each birth came with major complications), my mother had to be on bed rest. So Mom let go of her job as a bank teller, a position that only paid about $20,000 a year; and my father, who worked on and off at various jobs, wasn't bringing in much money. That's why my mother and father loaded up a U-Haul trailer and moved us all to Oklahoma so we could find a fresh start.

Mom had once dreamed of becoming a lawyer. But after she had Arielle in 1989, she set aside college at Norfolk State University in order to keep food on the table. A couple years later, when she was twenty-one, she met my father and they got married. As they considered a move from Virginia to Tulsa, Oklahoma, after I was born, the plan was for my mother to go to Bible school and for my dad—who already had a background in ministry—to continue his training. At the time, my parents were both part of a movement called Word of Faith, a set of teachings that involves claiming and standing by God's promises in the Bible. So Tulsa—a city filled with Word of Faith mega-churches and Bible schools—was the perfect spot.

When we rolled into Tulsa in February 1996, my family drove right into one of the worst situations we've ever survived. My mother and father had scrounged up a thousand or so bucks to cover the deposit and rent on an apartment, but because of a miscommunication between my parents and the owner, that place fell through. So rather than sinking all their money into a hotel, my parents first looked around for apartment vacancies. When they couldn't find a single rental that was in their budget, we ended up living in the only place that wouldn't cost them a cent—the floor of our blue Dodge van.

So that's how we became homeless—as in parked in a dark, damp, and rundown lot for several months. Why didn't they reach out to their families for help? Because Mom was sick and tired of asking her own parents to lend us money, so she just wanted to stick it out this time. When my mother called her mom from a pay phone— not many cell phones back then!—my grandmother kept asking, "What's your address?"

"I felt humiliated," Mom once told me when I asked her about the experience. "We removed a bucket seat from the back of the van so that we'd all have more space to lie down, huddle together, and try to sleep at night." After lifting me up to her breast to feed me, Mom would rock me in her arms. Later, after my mother had patted me on my back till I was asleep, she'd carefully spread a napkin on the floor to prepare the only daily meal our family could afford—peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. "And since we'd gotten to Tulsa right in the middle of winter," Mom recalls, "it felt like it was below freezing some nights."

Just to keep us warm, Mom dressed my sisters and brother in every shirt, pants, underwear, and socks she could find. With all those layers, my siblings must have looked like little stuffed animals! My sister Arielle was already six at the time, so Mom enrolled her in school by using the address of a post-office box. In between shuttling Arielle back and forth to first grade with the few drops of gas we had in our van, Mom practiced the alphabet with Joyelle, who was two, and John, who was one. For hours, our mother would entertain them with stories or let them color while my father, who worked sporadically as a day laborer, was away from the van. At just two and a half months old, I lay there next to all of them, wrapped in every blanket Mom could find.

That April, my parents' tax refund check showed up in their temporary PO Box—and that gave us enough money to move into a small room in a Super 8 hotel. But after two months of shelling out $50 a night, they'd blown through every dime of their money. In place of cash, my parents began making promises to the hotel manager that they would pay up soon—and that worked until their bill climbed to more than $300. So one afternoon when we were away from the hotel, the manager evicted us from our room and removed our few belongings. In fact, just to get our suitcases back, my grandmother had to wire some money—by this time, Mom had 'fessed up to her parents that she and Dad were flat broke. Once that money ran out, we stayed for three weeks with a newlywed couple my parents had met through a local ministry. But after awhile, we ended up back where we began—crowded together in the back of a Dodge. We spent most of our five months in Tulsa living on that hard floor.

By spring, I was a few months old — and getting smaller by the day. (I've always been tiny—don't rub it in!) Because my weight kept dropping, my parents became concerned. In fact, my mother told me that a couple of people accused her of starving me. She fed me constantly, but I threw up everything. At one point, Mom says it felt like I only weighed about four or five pounds. I'd received one round of vaccinations at birth, but because my family had no insurance, Mom hadn't taken me back to the doctor. Mom eventually received a letter from the hospital where I was born—a friend back in Virginia had forwarded the note to our PO Box. Doctors had gotten the results of the blood test they run on all newborns. They'd diagnosed me with a life-threatening disease called Branched Chain Ketoaciduria. Sounds scary, right? Basically, it's a rare blood disorder found in infants who can't process particular kinds of protein. The condition is also known as maple syrup urine disease (MSUD)— mostly because it makes a baby's pee smell just like a stack of molasses-soaked pancakes. Maybe that explains why I've always loved me some IHOP.

But all jokes aside, I was sick. Seriously sick. And in addition to the blood disease, Mom was also pretty sure I had whooping cough, because I sounded like a child she'd heard on a public service announcement on television. "I was afraid for your life," Mom recently told me. "Because we had no money and no health insurance, I was afraid to take you to the doctor. I just didn't know what to do, so I leaned on my faith." Mom prayed for me every single day as she quoted (and requoted!) a powerful Scripture, Isaiah 53:5: "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." As it turns out, God answered Mom's prayers and came through with a miracle: By the time I was six months old, the disease had gone away. Completely. And to this day, I am healthy—even if I am only 4'11" and 94 pounds.

By the summer of 1996, my parents were so over the whole Tulsa thing— so our next stop was Texas. We moved into the two-bedroom apartment of Mom's Uncle Ben and Aunt Teresa in Irving. My uncle offered my dad job leads, and Dad eventually began working at a used car dealership; but because he didn't sell many cars, he didn't earn much money. So he quit that job. Around that time, Mom's aunt and uncle traveled to the Olympic Games in Atlanta. Years later, Mom told me that her uncle left a note with her. "In that letter, my uncle wrote that he loved me and my kids, and that we were always welcome to stay with him," Mom recalls. "He also wrote that he wouldn't support a grown man, so we had to be moved out by the time they returned from the Olympics." Arielle told me that Mom began looking for work too, since my father wasn't working. It didn't take long for Mom to land a job in the collections department at Citibank. In addition, Mom's friend—the same one who'd once forwarded the hospital's note about my blood disease—knew a young couple in Dallas. That friend asked the couple if they'd be willing to take us in temporarily, and they agreed. In the fall of 1996, Mom had saved up enough money for us to move into our own apartment in Richardson, Texas.

Later that year when Mom celebrated my first birthday, I'd already been given the nickname my whole family still calls me: Brie Baby. Since then, we've put every possible spin on that name, including Brie Cheese and Breezy. And then there's my personal favorite— Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Cover Girl. But if you ask me, none of those nicknames roll off the tongue quite as gracefully as my full name does: Gabrielle, which means "God's able-bodied one." When that blood disease almost snatched away my life, it might've seemed that I wouldn't really live up to my name. But my heavenly Father had something totally different in mind. In Texas, as I grew stronger by the month—and as my mother worked to turn our family's financial crisis into a comeback—my name's meaning became a sneak preview of all that would come next.


Excerpted from Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith by Gabrielle Douglas Michelle Burford Copyright © 2012 by Gabrielle Douglas. Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Gabrielle Douglas is a two-time Olympic gold medalist. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, she made history, becoming the first US gymnast to take home a team and an individual gold medal in the same Olympics. Gabrielle began her training at age six, and became the Virginia State Champion only two years later. When she was fourteen, she left her family in Virginia Beach to train with coach Liang Chow in Des Moines, Iowa. Under Chow's guidance, and with tremendous faith in God's plan for her, Gabrielle competed in the Olympic Trials and walked away with the only guaranteed spot on the team. Since her Olympic triumph, Gabrielle has used her platform to inspire millions with a powerful message: With hard work and persistence, any dream is possible. Visit her online at

Michelle Burford is a Harvard-trained journalist in Manhattan and a founding editor of O, The Oprah Magazine. Though she has visited nearly three dozen countries on six continents and interviewed scores of folks along the way, she'd never once even attempted a cartwheel until the day she watched Gabby claim the Olympic gold medal. One month and two enormous bumps on the forehead later, Michelle teamed up with Gabby to bring you the story behind the story. To check out more of Michelle's creations, swing by

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Grace, Gold and Glory: My Leap of Faith 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 112 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Television allowed Gabby to show us her gymnastic skills and winning personality. I bought the book wanting to know more about this lovely, young lady who has become America's sweetheart. I was not disappointed. I could not put the book down and read it in one day. If anyone wants to begin to know why Gabby is so special, you have to read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was heart warming, touch and remarkable. The story of how she was poor and living in a van to now. How she went in the olypimics. Gabby Dougles's story is truly inspiring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If this book doesn't touch and inspire you, report your soul missing at once! Brie is as delightful and inspiring on paper as she is in the gym. She brings her Faith and Family alive, opens her heart, and invites readers inside. Beyond Gabrielle's faith, story and achievements,, there are also great lessons on parenting and return to traditional values I was especially impressed by Gabrielle's Mother, truly an example of Grace and strength,she really impressed me and it is very clear where Gabrielle got her spirit. I would love to meet that woman! So even if you will never be world class gymnist,, there are life lessons in this book Also, importantly, while race is mentioned, and plays a factor as far being a role model,, and clearly some challenges, race is never presented as a defining factor. Any racial implictions are simply a fact, and are all the more powerful in the reader's eyes. instead, Gabrielle, led by her Mother, epitomize Martin Luther King's vision of living and judging people by the content of their character and not the color of theeir skin. Their defining factors are their Faith, family, nd spirit. Truly a worthwhile read on many levels
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter, 10, recently started taking gymnastics and idolizes Gabrielle Douglas. She just read the book, Grace, Gold and Glory and loved it. Most importantly, she read how her idol had to face challenges, and worked extremely hard to fulfill her dreams. The book is inspiring to all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a great book, such an inspiring girl with a great story to tell. I read this book in like 3 hours I couldn't put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gabrielle Douglas is a true champion with an amazing story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the way she expresses how she feels with raw emotions. No holds barr, gives every Black person in the world a reason to never give up or be defeated by the wickedness of the world. Agree is a true inspiration to US.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book not only is she a great gymnis she's also great write she is a inspiring black women
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is PHENOMENAL! Gabby's story is heartwrenching and sencere and will most deffinately inspire you. She is an amazing role model and has an uncomprehendapble faith in God, which is beyond motivating. You'll laugh and cry alongside Gabby as she narrates the story of her humble begginings and just how she ended up on the Winner's Podium in London. This is a deffinate must read for any fan!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
she is smart talented determined and focused in her goals. if she can do such an unexpected term of faith than i believe i can do anything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It tells you all about her life and how many tough times she has had from getting picked on at gymnastics to living in a van. I loved her once I saw her compete at the Olympics so I really enjoyed it because I got to learn more about her. If you have a interest in gymnastics or you just love her you should definitely read it loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!:p:):)_Gabby is awesome ______________________________________________________________
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im 9 and this book inspired me sense theres not many of us that are pro gymnast shes strong never gives up and differnet
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really creative and deep thought. This book is amazing!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love gabby douglas. Did u know her last name spells U.S.A Gold Douglas U.S.A Gold
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gabby is an amazing gynast! She is powerful, strong and hard- working!she has faith in herself
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that all gymnasts should read this book it's amazing;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
even though i just read a sample, this girl is so inspiring !!!!! love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have only read the sample so far and i am definetely going to get the whole book :) i know im going to love it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great!!!! book couldn't put it down, one determine young lady.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and read it in 1 day it was so inspiring
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is an amazing book. It doesnt just tell you about what she did to earn gold, it tells you about life.How you can be hurt and put down but you get back and you dont care what other people say. I myself read it and i feel mentally stronger than ever,because her book gave me a lot of strength to keep going and dont give up on anything. -- A GIRL WITH A STRONG SPIRIT
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its just so Beautfuly writen!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is inspiring if you are Chritian,and understand it and have read the bible. I am a big fan of her and hope to be an Olympic Swimmer like Missy Franklin or Micheal Phelps. I have it at home in hardback and have the poster in my room. Dream big-Train hard-Just believe.I hope youlike this book as much as I did
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I haven't actually read this book, but it sounds very, very, very good.