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Emily Scott overcomes humble beginnings to realize Olympic dream

Jan 27, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT

Emily Scott Getty Images

Emily Scott will be one of more than 200 athletes competing for the U.S. in Sochi and one of eight short track speed skaters.

But the story of how she got there is as unique as any on the Olympic Team.

Scott, 24, qualified for her first Olympics at the U.S. Short Track Trials on Jan. 4.

That came about six months after she filed for food stamps and about 15 years after her mother, Carol, went to jail for the first time.

NBC Sports’ Joe Posnanski details Scott’s journey in this profile.

“A girl that age doesn’t understand everything. But Emily understood enough. Her mother was a methamphetamine addict and trafficker. She was unstable, out of control, unable to deal with life. Emily’s time with her had been bewildering and sometimes frightening and always unsteady. “Everyone chooses a path,” Emily says gently. “Unfortunately that was her path.”

In light of the recent Jamaican Bobsled Team headlines, it’s important to remember many Olympians face financial struggles.

A year ago, Emily Scott lost almost all of her funding. There were numerous problems at U.S. Speedkating — speedskater Simon Cho admitted to tampering with a competitor’s skate, speedkating coach Jae Su Chun was forced to resign after alleged physical and verbal abuse, financially the group was a shambles — and Scott’s funding was cut from almost $2,000 a month to $600. Her apartment in Salt Lake City costs $500 a month. Even with her job at a surgical supply factory, she could not make ends meet.

“Scared?” she asks. “Yes. Of course I was scared. I was in panic mode. I felt like everything I had worked so hard for so many years was crashing down.”

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