American gymnastics medalist Danell Leyva’s parents lost their home to foreclosure along the road to the Olympics, court records show.
Court records show that the now-defunct Wachovia Bank sold the home to Qualifier Properties LLC for $141,800 in 2010 after a two-year-plus court battle between Wachovia and the gymnast’s family — his stepfather and coach Yin Alvarez and his mother Maria Gonzalez. According to the filings, the family owed $326,005 on the home.
Along with thousands of others in Florida, Alvarez and Gonzalez were not alone in their foreclosure troubles among Olympic families. TMZ.com reported last week that gymnast Gabby Douglas’s mother has filed for bankruptcy and Ryan Lochte’s mother, Ike, was also fighting her own foreclosure woes. Other Olympians have discussed living near the poverty line during training.
Gymnastics is a particularly expensive sport. According to a recent Forbes analysis, raising an Olympic gymnast can cost at least $15,000 a year in training costs. Alvarez and Gonzalez, both former gymnasts themselves, also operate their own facility, Universal Gymnastics, in Miami.
For Alvarez and Gonzalez, getting to Florida in the first place was its own struggle. Alvarez fled Cuba in 1992 by escaping during a trip to Mexico and swimming to America across the Rio Grande. His wife and stepson followed to the United States shortly after.
In an interview with Inc. Magazine earlier this year, Alvarez spoke about the housing crash.
“I was in a hard situation, like everybody else, three or four years ago when the housing market collapsed,” he told the magazine. “We live in Miami where most people’s business is real estate, so we lost about 50 percent of our students. We looked at the students who were really good in gymnastics but whose parents were struggling now, and told them to pay us whatever they could each week: If you can pay 20 bucks, pay me 20 bucks. If you can pay 10 bucks, pay 10 bucks. And when things get better, we’ll go back to normal and you don’t have to pay me what you owe me; we’ll just start over.”
According to Realty Trac, a California-based firm that tracks foreclosures, Florida had the second highest rate of foreclosures in the country in 2008 with more than 4 percent of it’s homes having received at least one foreclosure notice. In 2010, when Leyva’s family’s home was sold, Florida hired judges out of retirement to deal with the backlog of more than 500,000 foreclosure cases that had piled up in that state alone since the foreclosure crisis began.
Leyva, who finished competition at the London Olympics on Tuesday, did not return requests through his reps for comment.