A figure skating great helped him get his start
Chen, the youngest of five children in a family from Salt Lake City, decided he wanted to figure skate when he was just 3 years-old. His family didn't have the money to buy him a pair of skates of his own, so he made his skating debut wearing a hand-me-down set from his sister. When he grew out of his sister's old skates, Chen finally got a pair of his own after his father turned to foundation run by two-time U.S. Olympian and three-time national figure skating champion Michael Weiss for a contribution of $200. Although Chen was too young to apply for an actual scholarship at the time, Weiss pitched in to help kickstart the boy's skating career anyway.
But the foundation's financial assistance -- and support to keep Chen in the sport -- didn't end there. As Chen practiced, progressed, and competed in tournaments over the course of the following 10 years, Weiss' charity provided him with a total of $75,000 in financial assistance, according to a report by USA Today.
“Michael gave me money to kick-start my young career,” Chen told the paper in a recent interview. “Honestly, without that, it would be impossible for me to get to where I am now.”
Chen also credits his parents -- his mom, especially -- for supporting and shaping his career.
"My family and parents were very influential in my skating career," he said in a statement provided by the US Olympics Committee and NBC Olympics. "My Mom spent most of her free time driving me around, spending time on the ice, and watching me skate. My mother was the most influential person in relation to my career. She was the one who helped me begin skating and help me find my love for the sport, as well as push me through the hard times."