Shani Davis was born on Friday, August 13, 1982, in Chicago, Illinois. Raised by his mother on the city’s south side, he started roller-skating at local rinks at age two. By age three Shani was darting around the roller rink so fast that skate guards would chase him just to ask him to slow down. Seeming to become bored with roller-skating, at age six a coach suggested that Shani switch to ice skating. Shortly thereafter, his mother started working for an attorney, Fred Benjamin, whose son happened to be involved in speed skating at an elite level. It was at that time that Benjamin suggested that Shani give speed skating a try.
Shani joined the Evanston Speedskating Club at age six and within two months started competing locally. Though immediately taking to ice, at competitions Shani was generally more interested in running around with his competitors and playing video games than he was with competing. Nevertheless, by age 8 he was winning regional age-group competitions and began to hear about the Olympic ideal from his Northbrook competitors and friends. Shani’s mother encouraged him to participate and, in an effort to build his endurance, woke him most mornings to run a mile on a track close to their home. As there were — and still are — no speed skating clubs in inner city Chicago, at age 10 Shani and his mother moved to the far north side of the city to be closer to the Evanston rink.
Watch Shani’s video blog dated 2/13/10:
2006 World Cup Interview: