It’s that time of year when magazines release their year-end issues and bestow honors to those who have made a large impact throughout the last 365 days. Sports Illustrated has finally revealed its 2016 SportsKids and they are none other than the fierce and fabulous Sheppard Sisters. If you are not familiar with these young Junior Olympian siblings, then get ready to be blown away by their story and accomplishments.
Tai, Rainn and Brooke Sheppard, who range in age of 11, 10 and 9 years-old respectively, have the kind of hard knock, underdog story that some of the most memorable sports triumphs are made of. To overcome serious hardships such as homelessness, while chasing their athletic dreams is inspiring to anyone and obviously Sports Illustrated agrees.
Essence has the full details of the Sheppard Sisters, their SportsKids honor and more.
This week, young track and field stars Tai, Rainn and Brooke Sheppard were announced as the recipients of the 2016 Sports Illustrated SportsKids Of the Year award for their athletic accomplishments and unwavering dedication in the face of extreme hardships. The girls first took an interest in track and field when their babysitter signed them up for a track meet in January of 2015. When the family fell on hard times and relocated to a homeless shelter that September, the encouraging spirit of those around them played a big role in helping to keep them going.
“My coach really inspired me to try hard and to really put everything into it,” 9-year-old Brooke told ESSENCE. “Also, my babysitter Sharon Davis, who introduced us to track and field and really helped us work as hard as we could to get us where we are now.” Brooke also credits Olympic champion Alex Felix with inspiring her to push forward. “My inspiration is Alex Felix,” she adds. “She really inspires me to work really hard like her.”
Focused on taking things to even higher heights as a Junior Olympian, 10-year-old Rainn had the perfect reaction to learning of the SportsKids of the Year honor
”This is the type of place that hard work can take you!” she says. “My main goal is just to keep trying harder so I can do my best in the Junior Olympics because, if you think about it, all of my training is for that.” For big sister Tai, there’s nothing quite like getting to live her dreams with her sisters by her side. “The most exciting part is going to Junior Olympic nationals and congratulating my sisters and supporting them,” she says. “Also, winning awards myself and then getting to relax after working so hard.”