GARY | The white Hummer limo, with a police escort, pulled up to the Genesis Convention Center on Monday.

Its VIP and smallest passenger was Olympic gymnast Gabrielle Douglas, accompanied by her mother Natalie Hawkins and their security guy.

Douglas was in town for a dinner honoring her after winning double gold at the London Games this summer.

It's been a whirlwind tour that shows no signs of slowing down after appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Network, "The Vampire Diaries," at "The Video Music Awards" and a photo shoot for the cover of Kellogg's Cereal.

Gabby also has her own website and will have her memoir — "My Leap of Faith" — released in December.

She's only 16, mind you.

"Gymnastics is fun but I'm still having fun as a kid staying active. I'm still that 16-year-old inside," Gabby said. "I love shopping. When I'm not in the gym, I go off to the mall and shop for shoes and clothes.

"I go to the movies with my friends from the gym and we all hang out on Saturday or Sunday, when we don't have gym."

Leading up to the Olympics, Gabby said she often practiced 36 hours a week.

"It's been so much fun and, yes, really crazy but I've gotten a few opportunities here and there, so I'm enjoying it," she added. "I try to inspire people by telling them to never quit, never give up."

You have free articles remaining.

Become a Member

Keep reading for FREE!
Enjoy more articles by signing up or logging in. No credit card required.

Leaving her Virginia Beach home at age 14 to study under Liang Chow in Des Moines, Iowa was a hurdle she almost didn't clear.

"It was really tough but I learned not to let it faze me," Gabby said. "You get mature over a couple of months. You grow up and say: 'Hey, this was my decision. It was my choice to move here.'

"I had to shake myself, stop being a baby, put my big girl pants on, not cry every day and just go in strong."

More than 500 people attended Monday night's tribute dinner and another 800 watched Gabby and her mother be interviewed on "The Michael Essany Show" afterward in the adjoining arena.

"I think I'm going to stick with it another four more years. I'm too young to retire and I think I can gain a lot more," Gabby said of her future. "I want to go to more international championships so I can gain more experience.

"And I think it would be fun to attend two Olympics. It would be so cool."

Natalie Hawkins attended Roosevelt High School for a year and a half. Her father Theodore is a 'Velt grad.

"I have people who put me in check when I need to be in check," Gabby said. "I've always stayed grounded.

"I always have this peace in my heart. God has kept me very humble and down to earth."