Tragic Details About The US Women's Soccer Team

Since its formation in 1985, the U.S. Women's National Team has featured some of the biggest names in women's soccer — like Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe — and earned a mountain of achievements. In addition to their incredible feats and jaw-dropping games, the USWNT helped catapult women's soccer into the professional leagues, specifically the 1999 World Cup-winning roster, aka "The 99ers." "The 99ers had a huge impact on me while I was growing up and my passion wanting to play," USWNT player Alex Morgan told The Football Times in July 2019.

"They're great people who really helped shape the history of this [national team] program. I will forever be grateful to them." In light of the team's difficult, yet groundbreaking journey in the sports world and its landmark placement in the 2023 FIFA World Cup, we did a deep dive into the tragic details of the current team and its players.

Megan Rapinoe's brother struggled with drug addiction

Since making her debut in the Women's Professional Soccer League, Megan Rapinoe has curated a long and successful career chock full of incredible feats. However, amid her record-breaking plays and legendary wins, the beloved talent has dealt with family tragedy — specifically regarding her brother Brian and his drug use. In her 2020 memoir, "One Life," Rapinoe revealed she wanted to be just like her older sibling, who also played soccer, growing up. 

"I idolized my Brian. And I guess, what with the hair and the clothes and the being into soccer... it must be true," she wrote. While her early childhood was full of fond memories of Brian, things took a turn for the worse when he got into drugs at age 15. His substance abuse problems persisted for more than 20 years and resulted in numerous prison stays. 

"Outside of prison, Brian was just a druggie, stealing to buy heroin, but basically a docile and amendable person," she explained in her memoir. "On the inside, he was a violent gang member, frequently having his sentence extended for possession of drugs." While Rapinoe's relationship with her older brother has faced an array of heartbreaking moments, the Olympic gold medalist shared a heartwarming Instagram post of the pair reuniting during the 2022 holiday season. According to GQ, Brian was released from prison in January 2022, and now lives with their parents while working as a general contractor.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Sophia Smith and Naomi Girma lost their Stanford friend to suicide

In March 2022, tragedy struck the Stanford University Cardinal women's soccer team, when team captain Katie Meyer died. A few days after her tragic death, the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner's Office announced she died by suicide. "There is no indication of foul play, and Meyer's death was determined to be self-inflicted," the Santa Clara Sheriff's office said in a statement, per News Channel 8. In an interview with "Today," the 22-year-old's family revealed their shock over Meyer's mental health struggle. "She was excited. She had a lot on her plate. She had a lot going on. But she was, she was happy. She was in great spirits," they explained.

Meyer's death also hit her Cardinals family extremely hard, including U.S. Women's National Team teammates Sophia Smith and Naomi Girma. "You were the most full of life person I ever met," Smith wrote in an Instagram tribute at the time. Girma echoed similar sentiments, writing, "You inspired me to be more confident, take risks, and live a life filled with love. There are no words to express how much I'll miss you." Before the 2023 World Cup, the two players announced that they would honor Meyer by creating a mental health initiative with Common Goal. "We know first-hand how many people, especially student-athletes, are struggling in silence, and we want to use our platform in this huge moment for something bigger than soccer," Girma shared in a piece for The Players' Tribune.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat

USWNT's beloved coach Tony DiCicco died from cancer

In 2017, the USWNT soccer family faced a tragic loss when former coach Tony DiCicco passed away at 68. "Last night in his home, surrounded by his family, Tony DiCicco bestowed love broadly as he peaceful transformed from mortal body to an eternal ideal," his son Anthony revealed in a statement on social media. According to The New York Times, DiCicco's died of cancer. "While sorrow is inevitable in his absence, his strength and grace illuminated a path forward without fear. We are grateful," Anthony added. Between 1994 and 1999, DiCicco led the USWNT to various victories, including the monumental 1999 Women's World Cup title and an Olympic gold medal in 1996.

DiCicco's death sent shockwaves throughout the sports world, especially the U.S. Women's National Team family. In a statement, the head coach of USWNT at the time, Jill Ellis, wrote, "Tony set the bar so high as a person and as a coach, and I know many players and coaches, myself included, who have benefited from his passion and commitment to the game." Former USWNT players Julie Foudy and Mia Hamm also honored their former coach. "We were so fortunate to have him be our teacher/leader," Hamm tweeted. Foudy added, "I smile thru the tears. His impact, immense."

Trinity Rodman has a tough relationship with her father, NBA star Dennis Rodman

Once known as the youngest player drafted in the National Women's Soccer League, Trinity Rodman has dominated the field for the Washington Spirit and the U.S. Women's National Team. In addition to her sports prowess, the young talent has also turned heads thanks to her famous father, Dennis Rodman. In a perfect world, it would make sense for the two athletes to share a close relationship. However, in reality, it's a very different story. In 2021, Trinity offered insight into her strained relationship with Dennis in an emotional Instagram post highlighting the end of the 2021 NWSL season. "Yes Dennis Rodman showed up to an NWSL game, but also my dad, after YEARS surprised me at a big game in my career, I was shocked, overwhelmed, happy, sad, everything," she wrote.

"My dad doesn't play a big role in my life at all, and most people don't know that, we don't see eye to eye on many things." Toward the end of her heartfelt post, Trinity admitted that, while they don't speak often or see eye to eye on things, there's nothing but love between them. While Trinity's relationship with Dennis is nearly non-existent, she revealed to Fox Sports that it's all water under the bridge. "I have not been in communication with him for months now, but at the end of the day, I have closure with it all," she explained. "I know he is proud of me. I really do." 

Lynn Williams lost her uncle to a freak football accident

For U.S. Women's National Team player Lynn Williams, sports have been part of her life since she was born. Hailing from Fresno, California, the young talent first immersed herself in soccer as a child, leading her to play for her local high school, Pepperdine University, and later, the National Women's Soccer League. While sports has been a safe space for her, aside from the injuries she's endured over the years, it has also been a source of tragedy. In 2000, her uncle Curtis Williams suffered a shocking spinal cord injury while playing football for the University of Washington. Curtis was ultimately left paralyzed from the neck down. Unfortunately, the once-promising athlete died from natural causes in 2002, per University of Washington Magazine.

"As an eight-year-old, I don't think I knew what was going on. I was obsessed with myself. I do remember that it was really hard on my family," she told The Athletic in February 2021. As a way to keep Curtis' memory alive, the NJ/NY Gotham FC reps his football No. 25 during her own soccer games. "Before the games, I always write on my arm... a 25. 25 is my uncle who passed away," she explained in an interview with Courage Country. "This is a really sad story, but he lived with my family for a year, so I got to see all of that. I think that anytime I see that number, I think that I get to play the game I love."

Megan Rapinoe's missed penalty kick

On August 6, 2023, the U.S. Women's Soccer Team struck out of the World Cup, ruining their chances of being victorious for three consecutive years. The U.S. team was bested by Sweden, who won the game 5-4 and are now one step closer to defeating the remaining rivals. Unfortunately, this loss has been especially hard on Megan Rapinoe, who is facing retirement and hoped to have a better sendoff. "It's like a sick joke for me, personally. I'm like, 'This is dark comedy, I missed a penalty,'" Megan Rapinoe shared with Fox Sports following the game (via CNN).

To make matters worse, Donald Trump has used the team's defeat to shade President Biden and tear down Rapinoe. "The 'shocking and totally unexpected' loss by the U.S. Women's Soccer Team to Sweden is fully emblematic of what is happening to the our once great Nation under Crooked Joe Biden," wrote Trump via his Truth Social account. "Nice shot Megan, the USA is going to Hell!!!"

Luckily, Rapinoe kept her head up after the tragic defeat. "I still just feel really grateful and joyful, and I know it's the end and that's sad," she told Fox Sports. "But to know this is really the only time that I've been in one of these [situations] this early says so much about how much success I've been able to have, and just how much I've loved playing for this team and playing for this country."