SI video profile of Ronda Rousey: ‘The Perfect Storm’

Friday, March 02, 2012

Life gave Ronda Rousey all she could handle when she was born blue and not breathing. Rousey was revived in the operating room, but was later diagnosed with brain damage that hindered her ability to speak coherently until age six.

At 8, Rousey’s father took his own life after he’d been paralyzed in a sledding accident and then contracted a rare disease that made recovery impossible.

Mother Ann Maria, who’d taken up judo when her own mother pushed her out the car door at the local YMCA and told her to go join something, made it a requirement that all her four daughters at least try the sport that had empowered her.

At 13, Ronda began drilling armbars with her mother to the point where she could do them in her sleep.

“My first injury ever was a broken toe and my mother made me run laps around the mat for the rest of the night,” said Rousey. “She said she wanted me to know that even if I was hurt, I was still fine.”

By 15, Ronda earned a spot on her first Olympic team and began competing in hundreds of matches on the elite world circuit.

After her second Olympics, a 21-year-old Rousey took one year to see what life felt like without judo in it. She got her own apartment and a bartending job. She began to wear makeup.

“After a year of that, I said, ‘OK, this is cool, but I’m really not meant to be normal,” said Rousey. “I was raised with the idea that I was going to be extraordinary in whatever it was I chose to do.”

Rousey’s whirlwind win streak is reminiscent of Royce Gracie’s domination in the earliest days of the UFC, when no opponent had the knowledge to defend his family’s style of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Whether Rousey can do this before Tate can expose the weaker parts of her skill set — presumably her striking — will be determined on Saturday.

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