Feature

An Olympian’s struggle

Solo’s family story could have come straight from a Dickens novel.

Hope Solo’s family story could have come straight from a Dickens novel, said Andrew Romano in Newsweek. The goalkeeper with the U.S. women’s soccer team was 5 years old when her father, Jeffrey—a Vietnam veteran and ex-con—started teaching her about the sport. But “the daily monotony of life” scared him, says the Olympian, and by the time she was 7, her parents had divorced. The next year, Jeffrey turned up at the family home in Richland, Wash., begging to take Hope to a nearby basketball game. “Then we just kept driving all the way to Seattle. We got a hotel room with a pool. We felt like we were living the life.” Several days later, a SWAT team surrounded Jeffrey in a Seattle bank, “put him in the back of a police car, and hauled him off.” More than a decade passed before Solo saw her father again, by which point he was living in a tent in the woods. The two bonded over their love of soccer, and Jeffrey would walk miles to watch every game she played in Seattle. Solo wishes she’d spent more time with her father, who died in 2007, but thinks their relationship made her a better player. “I’ve been through so much on and off the field,” she says. “It takes a lot to rattle me these days.”

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