With the end of the year drawing closer, many are taking the time to reflect on their blessings.
Tai, Rainn and Brooke Sheppard have embarked on a journey this year that is the definition of inspirational, going from homelessness to the Junior Olympics. This week, the three sisters are celebrating being named Sports Illustrated "SportsKids of the Year," and we couldn't be more excited for their continued success.
The young ladies are are gracing the cover of this month's Sports Illustrated Kids, after competing in the Junior Olympics. Each has their eyes set on continuing competing in various events in track and field, with 11-year-old Tai mentioning she wants to quality for the AAU Junior Olympic Games every year before working her way up to the Olympics.
The sisters have overcome all sorts of challenges and heartache throughout their lives, including coping with the death of their half brother. While they are supported by their hardworking mother, Tonia Handy, the family has lived in a homeless shelter since last September, and are working tirelessly as a team to find their way back on top.
"The first thing I thought about was, 'Will their education be interrupted?' Because these are great kids,” Handy says, of the girls first getting into track and field. “When it comes to schoolwork, they are No. 1. They were never into sports, so I was kind of leery, but [the parents and coaches] were so welcoming. It was beautiful. I took them to a practice, and they had the time of their lives. I never thought they could run so fast!”
The girls, who each maintain top grades at school, are being recognized for their inspiring perseverance, determination and of course, for their athleticism.
"I want to, of course, give them a more stable life," Handy adds. "But as far as a stimulating, open life, they’re getting that now."
Their coach, Jean Bell, echoes that sentiment, stating, "They are the most optimistic people I’ve ever seen. Nothing gets them down. They’re going to go far no matter what."
Talk about #BlackGirlMagic.
Learn more about these incredible young ladies in the video clip below.
(Photo: Sports Illustrated/December 2016)