Mary Lou Retton is opening up in her first interview since she was hospitalized for a rare form of pneumonia in October 2023.
The former Olympic gymnast sat down with Hoda Kotb for an exclusive interview, which will air on TODAY Monday, Jan. 8.
In a preview clip from the interview shared on Sunday TODAY, the 55-year-old spoke with Hoda alongside her eldest daughter, Shayla Schrepfer, at home in Boerne, Texas, where she is recuperating after spending a month in the intensive care unit.
Mary Lou Retton sits down with Hoda Kotb for her first interview since her hospitalization. (TODAY)
Retton is currently using a portable oxygen apparatus as her lungs heal, as noted by Hoda, who told the former gymnast, “I feel like you’re in a very vulnerable state.”
“Very much so. I’m very private and to come out and talk about it…Usually my interviews are ‘Oh yes, it felt great to win the Olympics!’” Retton said.
Retton then revealed the severity of her illness, saying she was almost put on life support.
“This is serious, and this is life, and I’m so grateful to be here,” the five-time Olympic medalist said. “I am blessed to be here because there was a time when they were about to put me on life support.”
In the early days of her hospitalization, Retton’s oxygen levels reached a level so low that her four daughters — Schrepfer, McKenna Lane Kelley, Skyla Kelley and Emma Jean Kelley — were told to “prepare for the worst” and had to discuss putting their mom on a ventilator.
Retton’s daughters revealed their mother’s diagnosis publicly on Oct. 10 through a crowd-funding site, asking for support and to help cover medical costs as their mom was “fighting for her life.”
Schrepfer provided several updates about her mother’s condition, which doctors called “a rare form of pneumonia,” in the weeks that followed to keep fans up to date.
In a post on social media shared Oct. 14, Schrepfer noted that while her mom remained in the ICU, “her path to recovery is steadily unfolding.” By Oct. 18, Schrepfer's next health update said that her mom had a “pretty scary setback” after “seeing so much progress” and was still in the ICU.
The next week, Schrepfer said on Oct. 23 that her mom was in “recovery mode” and was back home after her weekslong stay in the hospital but added that they had “a long road of recovery ahead of us.”
Retton shared her first public statement on Oct. 30, writing in part, “I’m with my family continuing to slowly recover and staying very positive as I know this recovery is a long and slow process.”
Less than a month later, Retton shared a message on social media on Thanksgiving, writing that on this holiday, her “heart is overflowing with profound gratitude.”
“On this day of giving thanks, I am reminded of the preciousness of life, the love that surrounds me, and the resilience of the human spirit,” she added.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com