World-class athlete turned doctor Debi Thomas is living in squalor in the Appalachian Mountains, an episode of OWN TV’s “Iyanla: Fix My Life” airing Saturday reveals.
Motivational speaker Iyanla Vanzant stars in the Oprah Winfrey-backed series in which she helps struggling people reclaim their lives. Thomas is the subject of this weekend’s season finale, and the former Olympic bronze medalist lives a vastly different life than most would expect.
Thomas was the first African American to win a medal at the Winter Olympics, which she claimed in 1988 for figure skating. She later studied to become an orthopedic surgeon and operated her own practice for two years before shutting down due to financial loss from divorce.
“Today I meet you in a trailer that’s overcrowded and infested with bed bugs,” Vanzant tells Thomas in a preview clip, which takes place in the trailer home where the former Olympian resides with a new fiancee and his two children — while Thomas has lost custody of her own 13-year-old boy. “Are you aware that your life has become unmanageable?” Vanzant asks.
When pressed on how she feels living in such conditions, Thomas admitted she’s “a little bit frustrated.” Vanzant seems incredulous, and sets out to help Thomas confront a series of hard truths.
In preview clips, Thomas said the crumbling of her first marriage was due to her popularity at the time, something her then-husband could not withstand. The depletion of her savings from a second divorce led to the shuttering of her business
“This is what I know: You’re living in a trailer in the Appalachian Mountains and your son ain’t with you!” Vanzant said. “You’re raising somebody else’s children!”
“So you can tell me whatever you want to tell me,” Vanzant continued. “Telling yourself the truth is important.”
Thomas’ episode of “Iyanla: Fix My Life” airs Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.