McKayla Maroney breaks Instagram hiatus and opens up about Larry Nassar and dealing with her father's death

By Jen Juneau
September 30, 2019 11:07 AM
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McKayla Maroney/ Instagram

McKayla Maroney has returned to Instagram after a hiatus of more than two years.

The retired Olympic gymnast, 23, posted a series of car selfies over the weekend to mark her return to the social media platform, telling her followers in the caption, “Missed u guys.”

“Last few years a lots happened w the #MeToo movement, and losing my dad very unexpectedly,” she explained in her post. “I’ll definitely talk about it more, but for now i’ll just say that even on the worst days, i knew i had so much to be thankful for. i have the most supportive family, and friends, and u guys are part of that. blessed to have u, and happy to be back 👼.”

Fellow gymnasts and former teammates, Kyla Ross and Simone Biles, welcomed Maroney back in the comments.

“Love you Mac😘,” Ross wrote while Biles added, “We love you mckayla 💙.”

Maroney previously returned to Twitter after a year-long break, first posting in August and later sharing a set of photos of herself in purple hot pants on Tuesday alongside the text, “Caring less, doing more.” She followed up her original post with two more tweets reading, “It’s all meant to be, or guiding you somewhere you need to be,” and, “Don’t regret the things that made you strong.”

Ahead of the photos, she tweeted, “Hold on tightly to what ur grateful for” — but the athlete’s initial Twitter return came in August, when she shared another carside snapshot and wrote, “I don’t ever think twice when it feels right.”

Both extended breaks predated the death of her father, Mike Maroney, who died at the age of 59 earlier this year — though Maroney tweeted, then deleted, the news of his death at the time.

In January, she wrote, “Love u dad. I can’t believe it’s real. I don’t want to. I’ll miss you forever. Rest in peace. You were the most incredible dad.”

Her brother Kav also posted about the loss on his own Instagram, writing, “Dad you taught me everything from how to walk to how to be a man and for that I thank you,” he captioned a group shot that also included Maroney.

“Thank you for getting up at 4:30am for work and not coming home till 7 pm every day for more than 20 years just to keep food on the table, and for us to have a great life,” Kav continued. “I’m the man of the house now and I promise to hold everything down. I promise.”

McKayla Maroney (R) and her father, Mike Maroney
McKayla Maroney/Twitter

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The loss of her father came almost year after Maroney bravely revealed she had been sexually abused by disgraced USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was convicted in January 2018 and has been called “the most prolific child molester in history.”

In her first-ever television interview about the allegations in April 2018, the gold-medal-winning Olympian told NBC News that Nassar’s abuse was constant and that it began almost immediately after going to the former gymnastics doctor nearly a decade ago.

“He told me he was going to do a checkup on me, and that was the first day I was abused,” she said, noting that he molested her hundreds of times. “[It was] every time I saw him.”

Maroney initially revealed her alleged abuse in an October 2017 Twitter post, writing then that it lasted until she left the sport in 2016.

McKayla Maroney in July 2016
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

“He said that nobody would understand this and the sacrifice that it takes to get to the Olympics, so you can’t tell people this. … He didn’t say it in a way that was mean or anything like that,” Maroney, who competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, recalled to NBC. “I actually was like, ‘That makes sense. I don’t want to tell anybody about this.’ And I didn’t believe that they would understand.”

In 2018, the gymnast spoke at a luncheon for the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children inside The Pierre hotel in New York City, where she questioned whether her successful gymnastics career was “really even worth it.”

“I wasn’t listened to, cared about or believed, and all of those things need to be weeded out of society because that’s where things went wrong,” she said, according to CNN.

Maroney later revealed that opening up about the abuse proved to be an important part of her healing journey. “In a way, the fear turned to fearlessness when I knew it would help so many people,” she said. “I carried this secret around with me. A lot of people say it’s empowering to speak, and it really was.”