Hold up the gold medal, tell Gabby Douglas' story to a roomful of parents with kids competing almost anywhere, and five minutes later, there will be nods all around. Five minutes after that, there won't be a dry eye in the place.
It begins with Natalie Hawkins, a single mother of four, determined to find her daughter the best coach she could, then delivering 14-year-old Gabby halfway across the country to a gym where Douglas didn't know a soul, to live with a family that couldn't look any more different than the one she was leaving behind.
''I'm sick to my stomach the whole time and when it's time to go back, I'm not even sure where she's staying,'' Hawkins recalled Thursday, a half-hour or so after Douglas became the first African-American to win an individual Olympic gold in gymnastics. '''And I'm thinking to myself the whole time, 'What kind of mother does something like that?'''
The memory, two years old now, is still fresh enough to make tears well up in the corners of her e...