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Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton Reveals How Ice Skating Changed His Life Amid Mysterious Childhood Illness

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The world knows him as an Olympic gold medalist, but as a child, Scott Hamilton was an unlikely athlete.

In the new docu-series Scott Hamilton Today, the PEOPLE/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN) profiles the American figure skater, from his harrowing health battles to his family life. In the second episode of the series, streaming now on PEN, Hamilton returns to his hometown of Bowling Green, Ohio, to reminisce on his childhood and how skating changed his live.

Around the star’s 5th birthday, he and his parents realized something was wrong: He wasn’t growing, his stomach was distended — and “I looked like I was starving to death,” he says in the new episode. “Doctors didn’t know what was wrong.”

 

After seeking treatment around the country, one physician made a proposal: “‘Let Scott go to the skating rink and be a part of that new junior skating rink they have,'” Hamilton, 58, recalls. “I went to the rink and started getting better.

“It was then that I became a skater. Health started to improve rapidly,”adds Hamilton, who with wife Tracie has four kids: Jean Paul, Aidan, Evelyne and Maxx. “By the next summer, I was taking private lessons, testing, and competing. I loved it.”

RELATED VIDEO: Olympic Skater Scott Hamilton Facing Third Brain Tumor Diagnosis: ‘I Choose to Celebrate Life’

Hamilton, of course, went on to win a gold medal in figure skating at the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, launch the ever-popular Stars on Ice franchise and become a beloved figure in American culture. Yet, he’s continued to be plagued by medical conditions over the years. In 1997, he overcame a battle with testicular cancer; and he’s faced benign pituitary tumors in 2004, 2010 and 2016. Last month, Hamilton revealed to PEOPLE exclusively that his latest brain tumor has reduced in size without treatment.

For more on Scott Hamilton, watch Scott Hamilton Today. The docu-series premiered Tuesday, and six 10- to 15-minute episodes will stream on PEN through the May 30 finale.