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Who is Apolo Ohno’s Mother?

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Competing in the Olympics can shine a spotlight not only on your talents, but your family life, too. Who is in the stands cheering you on? Is it both your mother or father, or are they divorced? Are you estranged from one parent or the other?

Just like the summer Olympics in Beijing when we watched Michael Phelps being cheered on by his mother — the public learning that his parents are divorced and Phelps estranged from his father — viewers watched American speed skater Apolo Ohno and his father, Yuki Ohno (pictured below) with curiosity.

While Japanese-born Yuki was seen everywhere with his son and is famously his strongest supporter, Apolo’s mother was nowhere to be seen, with no mention of her.

Information on Apolo’s mother is scant. She is described as a Caucasian-American woman named Jerrie Lee. She was married to Yuki, but they divorced in 1983 when Apolo was barely a year old. Yuki had his own hair salon in Seattle, Washington at the time and was working long hours.

The divorcing couple agreed that “little Apolo would be better off with a father who worked 12-hour days and had no relatives to help him,” reports Sports Illustrated in a 2002 article.

Apolo told Sports Illustrated that he has no interest in learning about his mother, or the half-brother who is 10 years older than him. “There’s no story about her,” Yuki told Sports Illustrated. “No story. It’s insignificant to what he is now. We’ve got to keep it that way.”

The Today Show Gallery of Olympians
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Written by Asianista

February 23, 2010 at 1:10 am

One Response

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  1. […] The obsession is stoked, in part, because so little is known about her. It’s been reported that her name is Jerrie Lee, she is Caucasian, and she and Apolo’s dad, Yuki Ohno, divorced in 1983…. […]


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