The Untold Truth Of Aly Raisman

It seems like yesterday that Aly Raisman and the other members of the "Fierce Five" captured gold and the hearts of America at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Showing the world an empowering message of sisterhood and teamwork, the team members were media sensations after the Games, appearing everywhere from the MTV Movie Awards to the White House. Two members of that quintet — Raisman and Gabby Douglas — returned to the Olympics in Rio in 2016, along with three more gymnasts to create the "Final Five," pictured above. 

But for Raisman, post-Olympic life has included more grueling trials and high-profile victories than she ever experienced in competition. Here is the untold truth of this empowering athlete. 

She turned her love of napping into helping the homeless

Who doesn't like naps? We all do, and if you're like Raisman, you're thinking about taking one right now. 

"My teammates all joke, they call me 'grandma' because I love my sleep so much," the six-time Olympic medalist told People

Perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that she became an ambassador for the online mattress company, Leesa, which is reportedly committed to giving back to those in need. According to a 2017 article in Fast CompanyLeesa donates one mattress for every 10 sold. "The mattresses go to nonprofits that help house the homeless, so that when people stay at shelters, they have a new mattress to sleep on," Fast Company reported. Leesa also plants a tree for every single mattress sold. 

She's one of the 'best-mannered celebrities'

When the National League of Junior Cotillions released its 2017 list of the ten best-mannered celebrities, Raisman secured the silver behind golfer Rickie Fowler, reported USA Today

The organization cited Raisman's "dignity and courage" as she came forward publicly to discuss abuse suffered at the hands of longtime USA Gymnastics' team physician Larry Nassar. 

Other celebs recognized for their manners included soccer great David Beckham, pop star Selena Gomez, and actress Meghan Markle, to name a few. 

An NFL player asked her out online

During the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Raisman acquired an adoring fan club, and Oakland Raiders' tight end Colton Underwood was one of its most ardent members.

According to Yahoo Sports!, he asked Raisman out on a date via a video message. Former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, who just so happened to be the wife of one of Underwood's teammates, helped orchestrate the ask.

"Just wanted to congratulate you on all your success in the competitions and representing the USA over there," Underwood said in his video proposal. "If you're ever in San Jose and want to go on a double-date with me and Andrew and Shawn, let me know."

Underwood play call was apparently a good one because Raisman agreed. "@Colt3FIVE thanks for the sweet video.... looking forward to meeting you," she tweeted in response. 

Unfortunately for Underwood, he was unable to stick the landing. Their relationship fizzled out six months later. "We're taking a break right now," he told the Journal Star. "We're still good friends and talk, but all that travel had been a nightmare." Though he admitted that the attention generated by his viral video "caused some strain," Underwood has no regrets. "It put a lot of pressure on us, sure, but we had fun with it. A lot of fun date nights," he said. "Those six months were great."

She called out a TSA agent for body shaming her

A long time advocate for body positivity, Raisman has no patience for body shaming. In May 2017, she took to Twitter to lash out at a TSA agent for allegedly disparaging her appearance. 

"Lady at TSA: 'Gymnast? I recognized u by ur biceps' Man at TSA: 'I don't see any muscles' & continues 2 stare at me," she tweeted. "How rude & uncomfortable." She added, "He was very rude. Staring at me shaking his head like it couldn't be me because I didn't look 'strong enough' to him? Not cool."

Those tweets got the attention of the Transportation Security Administration, who responded to her comments. "We conduct screening at security checkpoints when departing from a U.S. or U.S territory airport, and it appears that Ms. Raisman was traveling from a foreign airport," the TSA said in a statement, via CBS Sports. "We have reached out to Ms. Raisman via Twitter, requesting more details of her experience. If the incident occurred at any of our security checkpoints in the U.S, we look forward to hearing from her to look into this further."

She took on a member of congress

A day before Nassar's sentencing for sexual abuse, Indiana Congresswoman Susan Brooks tweeted a photo of herself with USA Gymnastics President Kerry Perry. That photo op didn't sit well with Raisman, who took to Twitter to share her feelings about what she considered to be a tone-deaf post. 

"@susanWBrooks 2 tweet support to @usagym the day before his sentencing makes me sick," Raisman tweeted. "U obviously have not done ur research & taken the time to understand that @USAG enabled a pedophile for decades, the worst in the history of all sports. I ask you to stand with the survivors."

According to Fox59, Brooks' office released a statement explaining that "the meeting with the new USA Gymnastics president was about a shift in culture that would happen through the Protecting Young Victims From Sexual Abuse Act." NBC 13 in Indianapolis reported that a spokesperson for Brooks said that the "Congresswoman is proud to be leading this bipartisan effort in the House to make sure that young people in the future can pursue their Olympic dreams in a safer and healthier environment."

We guess time will tell. 

She initially didn't want to attend Nassar's sentencing

During Nassar's sentencing, nearly 160 women and girls came forward to confront him and share their stories with the court. It was expected that Raisman would be one of those to use this platform, but initially she did not want to do so. 

"I will not be attending the sentencing because it is too traumatic for me. My impact letter will be read in court in front of Nassar," she tweeted. "I support the brave survivors. We are all in this together. #StopAbuse."

However, after witnessing the strength of her fellow survivors in the courtroom, Raisman decided to appear in court on Jan. 19, 2018. 

Her statement received a standing ovation

With a newfound sense of purpose, Raisman was all business in the courtroom. Looking Nassar directly in the eye, she began her emotional and powerful testimony. 

"I didn't think I would be here today. I was scared and nervous. It wasn't until I started watching the impact statements from the other brave survivors that I realized I, too, needed to be here," she said at the start of her blistering 13-minute statement. "Larry, you do realize now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force and you are nothing. The tables have turned, Larry. We are here. We have our voices, and we are not going anywhere. And now, Larry, it's your turn to listen to me."

When she concluded, the courtroom reportedly erupted in applause. Of all the standing ovations she has received throughout her career, the one she received in that courtroom was perhaps the most powerful of them all.

She said Nassar's sentence was not enough

On Jan. 24, 2018, Michigan Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years in prison stating, "I just signed your death warrant." While that judgment ensures Nassar will never be able to prey on anyone else, Raisman believes the punishment is not enough. 

"You know what, someone brought this up the other day and they said he's going to jail for almost like a year for each survivor, so when you put it in that perspective, it's really not enough," she told Us Weekly. "It would be like for the abuse he did there's been so many girls that have come forward. It's like he got one year for each person, like that's not enough, you know what I mean?" 

"He's gonna die in jail but any number is never enough," she added. "But I'm glad because so many people are watching and I hope that it does set an example to all the other abusers out there that their time is up and that abuse is never okay."

Did USA Gymnastics threaten her?

On ESPN's investigative series Outside the Lines, Raisman claimed USA Gymnastics ignored her sexual abuse allegations against Nassar and implied that the organization issued a thinly veiled threat to keep her silent. 

"I was told [by USA Gymnastics] to be quiet. And I think that when somebody in high power is telling you to be quiet, right when they realized you are abused, I think that that is a threat, and especially when their first concern should be to make sure I'm OK, to get information from me, to see if my other teammates were abused, to see what else I knew, to get to the bottom of it," she told host Bob Levy. "USA Gymnastics just said, 'We're handling this. We got this. Like, stop asking us questions. Don't talk about it because you're going to tip off the investigation.' So I didn't want to jeopardize anything. Come to find out, [USA Gymnastics] didn't report it right away."

When asked about USA Gymnastics' statement claiming to support "the young women who have courageously stepped forward," Raisman was having none of it. 

"Every single time they release a statement, it's basically the same thing, saying they care," she said. " "...I don't think they're sorry ... if they really cared, then there would be a lot of change. And there has not been enough change."

She was hailed as a hero at the 2018 Women's March

The messages of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements were fully embedded into the 2018 Women's March, with many celebrities sharing their painful stories or offering words of empowerment to the millions of women who took to the streets in cities across America. 

One of the 200,000 in attendance in New York City was singer-songwriter Halsey. In a powerful poem entitled, "A Story Like Mine", she shared her experience with sexual assault and also directly referenced Raisman's bravery in court: 

"The year is 2018, and I've realized that nobody is safe long as she is alive/And every friend that I know has a story like mine/And the world tells me that we should take it as a compliment/But heroes like Ashley and Simone and Gabby, McKayla and Gaga, Rosario, Aly/Remind me this is the beginning, it's not the finale/And that's why we are here and that's why we rally."