Laurie Hernandez, 17, watched her teammate Aly Raisman take the stand to testify against US gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, and detail the terrible abuse he put her and hundreds of underaged women through. Months later, while beginning to prepare for the 2020 Summer Olympics, Laurie reflected on her friend’s bravery and the future of US Gymnastics in an exclusive interview with HollywoodLife.com. “I think it’s important to separate what has happened from the gymnasts that are doing gymnastics,” Laurie explained. “You have all these little girls who love the sport, and they just want to roll around, and they want to learn how to do cartwheels and splits, and they want to compete. I don’t want that taken away from them, but something does need to change.”
The decorated gymnast urged that a way to help prevent this type of abuse from happening, in any sport, is to create a safe space at home. “I think the biggest thing is making sure that when the kids come home, it’s a safe place, and it’s separate from gymnastics. You keep that conversation open, like, ‘You can talk to me. If you feel uncomfortable, you can talk to me,'” she said. “My parents have always been like that. I’ve always been able to have conversations with them and really share how I really feel. I think that relationship is important.” Laurie, herself, is also a huge inspiration to so many young girls and through her social media, her new children’s book She’s Got This, and her body-positive clothing line with JCPenney, she is always serving as an incredible role model and voice of encouragement. She advises young girls and boys who want to become professional athletes to never give up. “There were so many moments that I could have, and almost, gave up. There was a time three months before the Olympics where I was on the brim of quitting,” Laurie revealed. “I wouldn’t have known the outcome. When you stay in it, those hard times mold you into the athlete and the person that you’re meant to be.”
You can find Laurie’s tween clothing line, Obsess, at JCPenney, and re-order her new book, She’s Got This, due to come out on October 9, 2018!