LONDON (AP) -- Moments after winning his first Olympic medal, U.S. shot putter Reese Hoffa turned the spotlight on a cause dear to his heart.
Put up for adoption at age 4 after he accidentally burned down the family home, Hoffa made a plea for people to take in kids who need parents.
"If you're a loving, caring mother and father looking for a child, adoption is an incredible option," he said Friday night after winning the bronze medal. "I'm definitely a testament to that."
When he was a kid, Hoffa and his older brother were playing around and they took a cigarette lighter to the strings on a curtain, then quickly doused them with water. His brother set the lighter down on the bed to get more water. Hoffa wanted to try it, so he lit a string. His brother didn't make it back before the curtains were engulfed in flames and the whole house burned.
He thought he and his brother were put up for adoption because of it.
Truth is, his mom was young - 15 when she had Hoffa - and struggling to make ends meet, working at a camera shop in a department store. She wanted to give them a chance at a better life. So she took them to an orphanage close to their home in Louisville, Ky.
The Hoffa family opened up its home to Reese, integrated him into the family.
Nearly two decades later, Hoffa reconnected with his birth mom through the Internet. His first words when he spoke to her: "I'm sorry," apologizing for the fire and the trouble it caused.
She reassured him it wasn't his fault and had nothing to do with the adoption.
His message was simple: Give a kid a second chance.
"I guess there could be a few bad adoptions. But I have to believe that most of them are great and these kids will turn out to be phenomenal people and very productive people in society," Hoffa said.
Now 34, Hoffa said this third-place finish in London just might mark his last appearance in an Olympic shot put ring.
"I think I'm just getting too old," he said.
That's why he soaked up the moment in London, even walking in the opening ceremony for the first time. His relaxed attitude carried over to the competition. A medal favorite four years ago in Beijing, he wound up seventh. This time, he set aside the pressure that comes with expectations.
"I came in with a great game plan," he said. "I did everything I could. I wouldn't change anything."