Highs and Lows of Olympic Soccer Star Hope Solo

A great goalkeeper can combat the most unexpected and powerful blows all on her own. It's something Olympic soccer star Hope Solo has been doing all her life. In a revealing new memoir released this week, Solo has shown endurance not only on the field but in life.

Conceived in jail during a conjugal visit, the Washington native's father, Jeffery John Solo, was in and out of prison throughout her childhood. After serving time for embezzlement, the young Hope learned not to trust her father early on.

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"One spring, when I was a Brownie, the Girl Scout Cookie money went missing," the 31-year old athlete writes in in Solo: A Memoir of Hope.

Sometimes it was her father who went missing for periods of time. Then at age seven, a year after her parents' divorce, she was the one who disappeared.

Kidnapped by her father, Hope and her brother Marcus, were forced to hide out in a Seattle hotel, while her mom sent police on a manhunt. The three were discovered at a bank and her dad was arrested before her eyes.

Confused and angry, she grew to resent both parents. "I boiled with anger," she writes. "I was mad at my mother for taking us home. Mad at my father for lying to us. Mad at myself for doing something wrong. I was mad at the world."

Her refuge became soccer, a sport her father first taught her to play. At Richland High School, she led her team as a forward to the state championships and won three consecutive league titles, before moving on to University of Washington's soccer team.

In her college years, she won even more accolades as goalkeeper. By then her father had served time for kidnapping and was living in a tent. After a chance meeting in a park, they reconnected. He soon began cheering her on at matches, gleaming with pride as she embarked on a career as a professional athlete.

But in 2001, their relationship was fractured again when he was implicated in the murder of a local realtor.
"I've been in the street for five years. I've been mean. But I did not kill this guy. I didn't even know who he was," Solo's father said at the time. Though police cleared him as a suspect, it was another reminder of the shadow of crime that seemed to follow her father everywhere.

Meanwhile, Hope's career reached new heights when in 2004, she became a member of the U.S. Olympic soccer team. By the 2007 World Cup, she was already a big name in soccer. That year, on his way to watch her match in New York, Jeffery Solo died of a heart attack.

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That same year, Solo hit a low point in her career, when she criticized her coach and teammates publicly after a game loss. Despite a public apology, she was briefly shut out of games and out of favor with some teammates. Then came her triumphant return at the 2008 Olympics where her several winning saves helped drive her team to victory.

Soon her fame eclipsed the athletic world and she landed a gig on Dancing with the Stars, making it all the way to the semi-finals. A nude photo shoot in ESPN added to her growing fan base. "I've had marriage proposals, invitations to military balls and even a few prom offers from 18-year-old boys," she said in a Your Tango web chat. "In New York City after the World Cup, this kid literally got on his knees in the middle of the street and asked me to prom. ... I told him he could ask me again in 10 years. "

But as her fame progressed, she wasn't always prepared for the scrutiny of the spotlight. In an ESPN interview she admitted to being drunk on the Today Show the morning after her 2008 Olympic win. Her rocky decade-long relationship with an attention-seeking party promoter fan also made headlines.

Now a year after their breakup, Hope is talking about getting back in the dating scene, but first there's the London Olympics.

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It's already been a bumpy road. Back in June she was given a warning by the U.S. Anti Doping Agency after a banned substance was detected in her urine. (She was later cleared when the substance was concluded to be a side effect of her premenstrual medication.)

As for the turmoil of her family history, she found some relief last year when her father's name was publicly cleared in connection with the 2001 murder charges.

"It took about ten years for his name to be cleared and he wasn't around for his name to finally be cleared. I just wish he could have lived in peace his last years. That's all I wished for," she told King5 news.

But when it comes to her father, peace may not be something she'll ever find.

"Yes, he was a con man. Yes, he was a ladies man. Yes, he was unreliable at best and a criminal at worst," she writes in her memoir. "It's a complicated thing, knowing how much pain my father caused in my life and the lives of others whom I love, yet still holding love for him in my heart. No matter what he did, he was my father. He helped create the person I am."

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