Mary Lou Layton ‘fighting for her life’, daughter says


McKenna Kelly said her mother, who lives in Houston, has a very rare form of pneumonia and can’t breathe on her own.

HOUSTON – Gymnastics gold medalist Mary Lou Retton, known as “America’s Sweetheart” after the 1984 Olympics, is in the hospital “fighting for her life,” her daughter said.

McKenna Kelly said her mother was being treated for “a very rare form of pneumonia.”

Kelly posted on that Layton, who lives in Houston, is unable to breathe on his own and has been in the intensive care unit for more than a week.

“Out of respect for her and her privacy, I will not reveal all the details. However, I will disclose that she was uninsured,” Kelly posted. “We ask that if you can help in any way, 1) please pray! 2) if you can help us pay our hospital bills.”

Layton was one of the surprises at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, winning five medals in flips and vault, including an individual all-around gold. Layton was the first American gymnast to win an all-around gold medal.

Her million-dollar smile quickly made her one of the world’s most popular athletes, and little girls around the world dreamed of becoming the next Mary Lou.

Layton watched with pride as Spring’s Simone Biles dominated her run at the Rio Olympics.

“She’s the best on the planet. She’s literally the best gymnast I’ve ever seen,” Layton told KHOU 11’s Matt Musial in 2016. “Her explosiveness, athleticism and strength…she’s special.”

Leighton retired in Houston and moved there to train with Bella Caloy.

She was inducted into the Houston Sports Hall of Fame in 2020, along with former Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich and Olympic track and field star Carl Lewis.

McKenna Kelley is one of Retton, 55,’s four daughters from her ex-husband, former Longhorns quarterback Shannon Kelley. She revealed that they quietly divorced in 2018.

“It was hard and I felt so alone,” Layton said. “We still love each other, but we’re not great together anymore.”

McKenna Kelley is a gymnast at LSU, and her oldest sister, Shayna, competed at Baylor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *