Paralympian Haven Shepherd Survived a Bomb Explosion to Become One of the World's Fastest Swimmers
Tales of overcoming adversity are as common at the Olympics as ice baths and interlocking ring tattoos. Which is perhaps why Paralympian Haven Shepherd doesn't spend too much time thinking about the fact that her very existence is a miracle.
"My story started in Vietnam when I was 16 months old," the 19-year-old swimmer shared with E! News in an exclusive interview. She was the product of her biological parents' extramarital affair and, with women in the country unable to divorce their husbands, "They thought the best way they could be together was to commit a family suicide."
Her parents strapped bombs to themselves, and held their toddler tight. The blast killed them both, but Haven was flung 40 feet away, she explained "and all the damage was done to my legs."
Four months—and one emergency surgery to amputate both legs below the knee—later she was adopted by Carthage, Mo.-based Rob and Shelly Shepherd. The parents of seven made sure to tell their youngest about her remarkable origin.