How did Derek Chauvin meet Kellie Chauvin? Ex-wife was a war refugee bullied for looks
Kellie Chauvin struggled to survive as a refugee and saw people dying before her eyes
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of the murder of George Floyd, was recently sentenced to 22.5 years in prison. As per the latest update, Derek Chauvin will issue a plea deal on federal charges of violating Floyd's civil rights. His sentencing was attended in court by former wife Kellie May Chauvin, along with her two adult children from her previous marriage.
Kellie divorced her second husband Chauvin soon after George Floyd's murder - as the former Minneapolis cop kneeled on his neck with brute force for more than eight minutes. Three days after Floyd's death, Kellie announced the decision to leave her husband. Soon after Chauvin's sentencing on June 24, an old article about Kellie resurfaced which revealed her childhood struggles as an immigrant in the USA and her love story.
Kellie Chauvin was a war refugee
In 2018, Kellie was crowned Mrs. Minnesota, becoming the first Hmong woman to earn the honor. She was 43-year-old at the time and a mother-of-two. However, her journey to success was not quite smooth.
Born in Laos in 1974, Kellie saw her country in the throes of a war in her childhood. When she was three, her family fled to Thailand for safety, where they put up in a refugee camp in 1977. At that time, a young Kellie saw people perishing from illness in front of her eyes. Her days as a war refugee continued to haunt her for a long time, which is why she avoided eating oatmeal after growing up.
According to Grand Forks Herald, Kellie and her family migrated to the USA around 1980, settling in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Later, she had opened up about the strenuous journey - how she had to wear a boy's jacket to beat the October cold while traveling to USA. "They say 'land of the free,' but I still didn't feel like we were free. We didn't know English. My parents didn't want us leaving the house because they didn't trust the world. You land into this brand-new world and you don't know what to expect, and so we were always kept inside," Kellie shared with the outlet in 2018.
She recalled feeling like an outsider in America for a long time. At the age of 10, she was put in a kindergarten class because she did not know reading and writing in English like kids her age. She was a constant victim of bullying and teasing in school, as she was the only student not invited to a local parade. The beauty pageant winner was even called 'ugly' by other kids in her childhood.
When she was just 17, her parents got her married to an unknown man, because her parents believed that if a Hmong girl is not married by 18, then nobody would marry her. Her first marriage as a teenager was abusive and toxic. She became a mother at that time and struggled hard to make the marriage work. When she could not put up with it anymore, she divorced her first husband and moved to Minnesota. Soon afterward, her former husband passed away.
Determined to achieve success in her life, Kellie pursued an associate degree in radiology and started working as an intern in the emergency room of Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. She worked there for the next thirteen years. Later, she switched careers and became a real estate agent with Re/Max Results. It was at this facility that she met her future husband, Chauvin. The former cop came across her when he had brought in a suspect for a health check before an arrest. After escorting the suspect to jail, Derek Chauvin returned to ask her out.
The duo dated for a while before tying the knot in 2010. They stayed married for over a decade till their divorce was finalized in 2021. Speaking about her husband during her marriage, Kellie had said, "Under all that uniform, he's just a softie. He's such a gentleman. He still opens the door for me, still puts my coat on for me. After my divorce, I had a list of must-haves if I were ever to be in a relationship, and he fit all of them."