A notorious ice skating hitman finds redemption through his sister’s eyes
May 16, 2022, 9:59 AM | Updated: May 17, 2022, 12:24 pm
(AP Photo/Don Ryan)
SALT LAKE CITY — It was known as “the whack heard across the world” — the attack on U.S. Figure Skating Champion, Nancy Kerrigan, in 1994. The hitman was 22-year-old, Shane Stant.
A new documentary, “My Hero, the Hitman” looks at how Stant has changed since the attack and how he is perceived through the eyes of his sister, Maile Stant. Maile was only three years old when her brother hit Kerrigan’s knee to prevent her from competing in the U.S. National Championship.
When Stant got out of prison in 1995, Maile was five years old — too young to understand the event that jailed her brother. Or, that he was a hitman. She only knew him as a loving protector from a father described as abusive.
An abusive background
Stant said he grew up in an abusive home in Hawaii, where his drug-dealing father beat him with 2 x 4’s. After his mother left because of the abuse, he says she was penniless.
While Stant doesn’t blame the beatings for why he went down his path of crime, he does point to the environment of being told he was worthless and having no money as a motivator toward trying to get rich by using the only skills he believed he possessed at the time.
“If someone is putting you down every single day, someone does nothing to help you whatsoever. And you’re being abused physically, emotionally, mentally; there’s a lot of psychological things you have to do, and emotional things you have to overcome, just to get to ground zero.”
Stant called hitting Kerrigan his biggest mistake and takes full responsibility for his actions. He said while he was in prison he took stock of what would happen after he got out. “I think the big thing is that when I was in prison, I looked at myself and knew I would be identifited with this [the attack] forever. It wasn’t going anywhere and I had to ask if I want to be identified with this and turn it into something positive or go on as before?”
Maile Stant, who is 20 years younger than her brother, never met Shane until she was six years old. But she said she built him up in her mind as the superhero who would save her and her other siblings from their dad.
She said when she first saw her ‘muscle tank’ of a brother she got scared for a moment. She wondered if Shane would be worse than their dad. “But he literally just said ‘hi honey’ and picked me up in his arms and it was like he had lived up to everything that I had created him to be in my mind,” said Maile.
“By the way, he’s the guy that attacked Nancy Kerrigan”
Maile credits her brother for bringing love and caring into her life and never had any idea of him being a hitman. Until she went to college.
It was there she first saw articles about Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, and her brother’s name was associated with them.
It was also during Maile’s college years she met filmmaker, Jason Kawika Young. He described one of their conversations.
“She talked about her older brother saying he was her hero. And that every good quality she sees in herself was instilled to her by her brother. And then as an aside at the end of this conversation she says “oh and by the way, he’s the guy that attacked Nancy Kerrigan.”
Young said he thought he misheard Maile because he knew a lot about this event and never heard that the man who attacked Kerrigan was Hawaiian. But as he heard more about her story, he thought this would be an interesting take on the saga.
Maile had not spoken much to her brother since she found out about his role in the attack. Both she and Shane agreed to film face to face while Maile asked her brother about the event.
Shane and Maile Stant sat down to discuss the dichotomy of the man Maile sees as a hero and Kerrigan only knows as a hitman. “My Hero, the Hitman” can be seen on most streaming channels and on Amazon Prime.
All three spoke with KSL NewsRadio’s Heather Kelly. Shane said the goal of the attack, which he said was organized by Jeff Gilooly, Shawn Eckardt, and Tonya Harding, was to create a bodyguard industry.
According to Shane, the plan — aside from keeping Kerrigan from competing — was to make athletes so scared they would hire bodyguards to keep them safe, so people like Shane would have continual work.
You can hear more of this conversation on Money Making Sense.