Sheryl Lee Ralph is all about the next generation. At 52, she’s half of one of the most popular and enduring families in America. She’s also the mother of one of the greatest athletes ever.
Her son, Lance Armstrong, is one of the most successful and well-known athletes in American history. She’s also one of the most famous mothers in show business — an award-winning actress, actress, actress, reality TV star, musician, and one of the world’s richest women.
And if she wasn’t so famous, she’d probably be president of the United States.
Born in St. Louis, she has lived the life of a showbiz celebrity mom in the making since she was 11 years old. Her dad, Lee, was a former professional basketball player and her mother, Linda Lee (née, Lee Arnold), was a real estate broker with a penchant for making money.
When Arnold died at 56 from a blood clot in her lungs, Lee — then 16 — inherited a fortune estimated at more than $1 billion.
“I’m not sure what my mom’s fortune is now,” she said in an interview at her home in Manhattan, where she lives with her husband, Lance Armstrong. “I don’t know what my inheritance is. My dad’s money.”
What we do know is that “She-Ra” — as her fans call her — has been the source of most of her money for the last 30 years or so, but Lee has always been in control of it. It’s part of her charm, her strength, and her family history.
Lee and her sister, Sheryl, met when they were in the first grade. They were best friends and played together. Then, when they were in seventh grade, Lee’s family moved to Los Angeles, where she attended Beverly Hills High School and Lee attended Beverly Hills High School.
Lee graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the school, and she was a U.S. women’s national champion soccer player who had a scholarship to the University of Southern California. But something happened, and Lee went on the road to chase her dream of acting.