The June 14 episode of The Family Stallone put a spotlight on Sylvester Stallone‘s eldest daughter, Sophia, as she revealed a lifelong condition she has suffered from. Sophia was born with a hole in her heart, and while she and her family have been taking care of it since she was a baby, it hasn’t been the easiest journey for her. During a chat with her sister, Sistine Stallone, Sophia revealed she got really sick when she was just 2 months old. Doctors initially had no idea what was wrong with her — out of 12 doctors “no one could figure it out” — but through sheer “determination”, Sophia’s mom, Jennifer Flavin, finally “found a doctor that found the hole”.
Sophia had an operation and ended up living her life pretty normally. Everything was “totally fine” until “one day”, when she was 16, she fainted while playing volleyball. “It was really having to go from living this normal life when I was 16 to having to have my chest sawed open,” she revealed. “The moment I found out I needed an operation was one of the most pivotal experiences of my entire life because I never had to consider death before.”
Sophia went on to say that it was a “really hard” time in all of their lives, as her mom had “rashes all over her body”, and her dad “couldn’t even talk” to her “without crying” about it. “It’s really traumatizing when you see the people that you think [would tell you], ‘You’re going to be 100 percent fine,’ break down harder than you,” Sophia told Sistine as tears streamed down her face.
Sophia then explained that her and dad Sly haven’t really had a conversation about her heart surgery since then because “he really didn’t know how to deal with it”. But after joining him in Oklahoma City this week, where he’s been filming Tulsa King, Sophia brought it up to him. Especially because she was getting ready to go to her annual heart check-up.
During a daddy-daughter date at a museum in OKC, Sophia said she feels PTSD from when she was 16 and got her second operation. Sylvester agreed it was “devastating”. And in his private confessional, he added that it was “horrible.” He explained that Sophia was so “brave” — they were all “falling apart” but she put on a “brave face”, while he was “scared to death.”
Sophia said that the day she found out she had to have another surgery in 2012, everyone around her was crying, so she kept her feelings hidden until they all left her hospital room. She felt that if she broke down, everyone would fall apart. Sly then started tearing up as he recalled Sophia’s first surgery as a baby. He said he was told to say “goodbye” to her as she was taken into surgery in Nov. 1996, and he couldn’t believe what was happening. He went on to say that every year when Sophia goes to see her doctor for a check-up, the entire family feels a “weight on their hearts”, as they hope she won’t be told she’ll need another surgery. “That would be… devastating is too gentle of a word,” he said.
Sophia finally went to her annual check-up at the end of the episode and fortunately for her, the patch over the hole on her heart is still in place. “You’re great — your heart’s great,” Sophia’s doctor of 26 years told her, which was a huge relief for her and her entire family. “There’s no greater feeling,” mom Jennifer said.
Want more? New episodes of The Family Stallone drop on Paramount+ every Wednesday at 3am ET.