Eaten by Demons: Hope Solo's tragic fall into hell

Hope Solo has long been arguably the best goalkeeper on earth.

Eaten by Demons: Hope Solo's tragic fall into hell

Hope Solo has long been arguably the best goalkeeper on earth. Her world career is followed by a dramatic plunge into the hell of alcohol addiction, which now ends in prison. Solo's fight against demons that even put her children's lives at risk.

How does it feel up there? What pressures, what expectations weigh on you when you're at the top? What demons and fears plague the mind and heart? Very few know the life of a sports star. Life in the public eye, in the bright, constant limelight. A state in which some people are incredibly lonely despite, or perhaps because of, countless admirers. In which private life does not remain private and the one who is adored by millions always has to be beaming. A life to break.

Hope Solo sits a long time on this often merciless throne. The dream of becoming a soccer star - which so many women, men, girls and boys reach for without even coming close - she lives it for a successful career. The 40-year-old was the goalkeeper for the US women's national team from 2000 to 2016, won two Olympic gold medals and a world championship. She is widely regarded as one of the world's best in her field - ever.

But some demons are eating away at the keeper, presumably for a long time. In March of this year, Solo drove under the influence of alcohol. The police find her in a parking lot. At this point, Solo is asleep behind the wheel, the engine is running - and her two-year-old twins are sitting in the back seat. Now a US court has sentenced the former world star to 30 days in prison and two years probation.

Solo has probably been going through a tragic fall from fame to hell for years, even ending behind bars. "I underestimated what a destructive part of my life alcohol has become," she now admits on social media, adding after putting her children's lives in danger: "I made a big mistake. Just the worst mistake of my life."

Behind the alcohol addiction are often great inner distress and despair. For one, self-concealed demons dangerously, painfully, and effectively haunting the mind, slowly but surely eroding it. This disease seems to have had Solo under control for some time, the exact reasons are still unknown. Some athletes experience a crash after their career when everything changes in one fell swoop, the structures, daily routines and social contacts of competitive sports are lost. Even the dazzling life of fame and the opportunity to be so much better at something than almost everyone else on earth is no longer quite there.

The end of her career in 2016 may make things worse at Hope Solo. She may succumb to alcohol addiction during her career. In any case, it's not the first time that the ex-keeper has come into contact with the law and made such negative headlines. In June 2014 she was arrested on two counts of domestic violence. It's about a confrontation between Solo and her half-sister and her 17-year-old nephew, whom they hit several times and whose head she is said to have banged on the cement floor several times. Police records and two sworn statements say Solo was intoxicated at the time of the arrest, which he reportedly violently and vocally resisted, and the alleged act.

In January 2015, however, a judge dropped the case for procedural reasons. At the same time, Solo is suspended for 30 days, alcohol is involved again. She and her husband Jerramy Stevens will be in a U.S. Soccer's own van pulled over and Stevens charged with drunk driving.

Half a year later, new details about the incident of alleged domestic violence come to light. When the case was reopened after an appeal by the prosecutor, Solo tried to drop the charges, which was denied in 2016. Only in 2018 did a court take this step. The facts are therefore never discussed publicly in court and the former goalkeeper is never legally acquitted. Solo, who still denies the allegations to this day, says at the time that she "went through hell", also because of the media coverage.

In 2016, Solo experienced an inglorious end to his career. She was thrown out of the national team after making derogatory remarks about the opposing team from Sweden at the Olympic Games that summer. The former best goalkeeper in the world does not reveal whether the end of her career will eat her up personally, whether she will fall. But that it bothers her is shown by her claims that the real reason for her dismissal is that she generally always speaks her mind. Had she been a man, the punishment might not have been as harsh and lasting, she says.

What role the addiction to alcohol played back then, when exactly it becomes a destructive part of her life, when physical, psychological and social problems first appear because of it - perhaps Solo herself doesn't even know exactly. Alcohol addiction comes differently than success, fame or retirement. Sneaky, sneaky, individual progression. Those affected recognize or deny the addiction for a long time, even if a neglect of life contents occurs.

Solo seems to have been lying to herself for such a long time that she put her children's lives in danger. Addiction, as this case clearly shows once again, is never the sole problem of the sick person; the whole family system is always affected. And when parents drink, it's the children who suffer the most. The tragic and dangerous drunk driving with the twins in the car makes it clear how much the mother's dependency was under control at the time. Whether the stroke of fate in 2018, when Solo suffers a miscarriage, plays a role in the process leading to addiction is just as little known as whether she has an addictive disposition.

As with many alcoholics, the illness is not immediately apparent (often even to family and friends). After retiring from soccer, Solo tries to reinvent herself and transform herself from athlete to activist. One focus is on equality and equal pay for athletes. In 2016, the former goalkeeper was one of the five star internationals who filed an ultimately successful lawsuit with the US Commission on Equal Opportunity at Work for wage discrimination by US. Submit Soccer.

However, Solo will probably only be able to answer the questions as to why, despite all her successes on and off the field, she gave in to alcohol more and more, how and why this tragic crash happened. She now has to confront her psyche, her very own demons, in her most important and at the same time most difficult game. 30 days in jail also becomes necessary cold turkey. Because it is a serious illness, she then needs doctors and addiction therapists to be able to stop drinking permanently. A step she definitely wants to take, as Solo says. It will also be important, quite complicated for a (former) competitive athlete, to be more considerate towards oneself. And then learn to deal with the guilt towards the children.

How does it feel up there? Hope Solo is one of the few who knows, who has had a career like few other footballers. But often behind the most brilliant careers are demons that can ruin an entire existence. Especially in the competitive, pressurized worlds of sport and fame that strive for perfection, achievement and brilliance.

The best goalkeeper in US history knows she has to fight again. A struggle that will continue for the rest of her life. The hard fight against the evil spirits of alcohol addiction. It's a long road, Solo writes on social media, "but I'm slowly coming back from my break."

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