Mary Lou Retton reveals she was almost put on life support during pneumonia hospitalization: ‘This is serious’

Mary Lou Retton says she’s “grateful” to be alive after doctors almost put her on life support.

The former Olympic gymnast sat down with Hoda Kotb for her first interview since being hospitalized for a rare form of pneumonia in October 2023.

“This is serious, and this is life, and I’m so grateful to be here,” Retton, 55, said in a sneak peek clip from the interview, which will air Monday on “Today.”

“I am blessed to be here because there was a time when they were about to put me on life support.”

The interview was conducted at Retton’s home in Boerne, Texas, where she has been recovering after a month-long stay in the intensive care unit.

The “Dancing With the Stars” alum is currently using a portable oxygen apparatus as she continues to recuperate.

Mary Lou Retton revealed she was almost put on life support during her pneumonia hospitalization in October 2023. TODAY/NBC

“I feel like you’re in a very vulnerable state,” Kotb, 59, told Retton, who replied, “Very much so. I’m very private and to come out and talk about it … usually my interviews are, ‘Oh yes, it felt great to win the Olympics!’” 

Retton was joined by her eldest daughter, Shayla Schrepfer, for the emotional sit-down. The decorated Olympian is also mom to daughters McKenna, Skyla and Emma, whom she shares with ex-husband Shannon Kelley.

Retton’s health struggles were revealed back in October when McKenna announced via social media that her mom was “fighting for her life” and in the ICU due to a rare form of pneumonia. The family set up a Spotfund account to help with the medical expenses.

“This is serious, and this is life, and I’m so grateful to be here,” the former Olympic gymnast said in a sneak peek clip from her “Today” interview. TODAY/NBC

“My amazing mom, Mary Lou, has a very rare form of pneumonia and is fighting for her life. She is not able to breathe on her own. She’s been in the ICU for over a week now,” McKenna explained on behalf of her and her sisters.

“Out of respect for her and her privacy, I will not disclose all details. However, I will disclose that she not insured. We ask that if you could help in any way, that 1) you PRAY! and 2) if you could help us with finances for the hospital bill.”

The family has raised over $450,000 of their initial $50,000 goal.

The full interview with Hoda Kotb airs Monday, Jan. 8 at 7:30 a.m. ET on “Today.” TODAY/NBC

Retton previously revealed via Instagram on Oct. 30, 2023 that she was out of the hospital and on the mend at home.


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“I’m with family continuing to slowly recover and staying very positive as I know this recovery is a long and slow process,” she wrote in part at the time.

“When the time is right, I will be sharing more information about my health issues and hope I can help others who may face the same battle as me. I love you all.”

Retton made history at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles by becoming the first American to win an individual all-around gold medal. Getty Images
She competed on Season 27 of “Dancing With the Stars” with pro dancer Sasha Farber. Getty Images

While Retton has made several achievements over the years, she is best known for making history at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles by becoming the first American to win an individual all-around gold medal.

She was later named “Sportswoman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated, was famously featured on a Wheaties box and received an induction into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1997.

Retton’s full interview with Kotb will air Monday, Jan. 8 at 7:30 a.m. ET on “Today.”