Just days after Raven Saunders won the silver medal in women’s shot put for Team USA, she suffered the loss of her mother, Clarissa Saunders, who died on Aug. 3 in Orlando, Fla.
She flew into the Charleston International Airport on Saturday with her sister, Tanzania, and with them was the silver medal and the body of their mother that laid in the belly of the plane.
Family, friends and fans gathered to welcome Saunders home in the bittersweet moment where she spoke to the crowd.
“There’s two things I say in life that you have to accept, be it physical or mental,” Saunders told the crowd.
“One, that it’s going to hurt and it’s going to be very painful. No matter how you look at it, it’s going to hurt. But, two, understand that you’re strong enough and worthy enough to accept those challenges and make it through and make it past those things.”
Saunders has used her platform at the Olympics to speak out on mental health and her own struggles being a Black woman in the LGBTQ+ community.
Before her mother passed away, she was able to watch Saunders win silver at the Olympics during a watch party in Orlando.
“I feel like the biggest takeaway from everything is that my mom was watching me,” Raven told the crowd.
“I’ve had so many people send me pictures and videos with her in it, with a smile bigger than I’ve ever seen on her face before.
“I keep looking back, and those are the things I go to. I actually saved on my (phone) lock screen a picture of our text when she congratulated me in our last message after I won the silver medal.
Clarissa Saunders’ cause of death has not yet been announced.