Abby Wambach: DUI arrest was wakeup call to addictions

In "Forward,” her memoir being released Tuesday, former U.S. women's star Abby Wambach, soccer's all-time leading international scorer with 184 goals, details how she abused alcohol and prescription drugs for years until her arrest in April for driving under the influence.

In a Facebook post, Wambach says writing the book was "a true gift." She says it is OK for readers to judge her about her lows, her self-doubt and her drinking. But she goes on to say that if readers recognize the private terror she describes of wondering if they're lost for good, she says they’re not.

"I am nervous to open up and talk about my struggles for the first time this week," he added. "But I hope in so doing, we can change the conversation about what it means to be a 'hero.' Heroes fail. They fall down. They screw up. Heroes tell the truth."

In her book, the Associated Press reported that Wambach, an Olympic gold-medalist in 2004 and 2012 and Women's World Cup champion in 2015, describes her bouts with vodka and pills, including Vicodin, Ambien and Adderall, addictions that she'd dealt with for many years.

With 184 goals, Wambach is the leading career scorer — male or female — in international soccer. She retired last December after 15 years with the U.S. women’s national team. She won two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup title with the team.

In April, Wambach pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) in Multnomah County (Oregon) Circuit Court. The Oregonian reported that she will enroll in a diversion program for first-time offenders and her charge could be dismissed in a year if she meets court-ordered conditions.

Wambach was stopped in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. The next day, Wambach apologized. According to Portland police, she failed a a field sobriety test and later a breath test at the precinct after being pulled over for failing to stop for a red light. She said she was leaving a dinner at a friend's house when she was stopped with a blood alcohol level of 0.13.

Wambach told the AP her arrest was the turning point.

“If I don't get so publicly shamed and publicly humiliated, I don't think I wake up,” said Wambach. “I think I was asleep for a lot of years. Asleep to the pleas from my family and friends, and even myself, to get help. So that night I was humiliated enough to wake up.”

She says she’s been sober since her arrest.

23 comments about "Abby Wambach: DUI arrest was wakeup call to addictions".
  1. James e Chandler, September 13, 2016 at 7:56 a.m.

    Promotion for a book.
    Disgusting. Now she wants to make money off of her character flaws.
    Not a hero.

  2. Carl Hudson, September 13, 2016 at 8:39 a.m.

    She says she has been sober since her arrest. Does that count for anything?

  3. David V replied, September 13, 2016 at 12:42 p.m.

    Yes, it counts for staying out of Jail and not endangering more lives as she did in Portland

  4. Bill Wells, September 13, 2016 at 9:44 a.m.

    Well I hope her book does not cause the WNT to forfeit any of the games she played in. She has become a xjock that wants back in the limelight.

  5. Kelly Quinn, September 13, 2016 at 12:28 p.m.

    I think someone taking accountability for their actions is huge. I wish more people could publicly admit to their mistakes. As far as the money for the book, how much is she really going to make?

  6. David V replied, September 13, 2016 at 12:58 p.m.

    I wish this one would go away...Hope Solo makes comments about their Olympic opponents and thrown off national team. Accused but not proven guilty, maintaining innocence, but the media crucified her... AW admits to guilt in a crime and gets the reward of being hired by ESPN/ABC, and now gets to say "I'm a hero because I'm telling you the truth about my abuse of alcohol, prescription drugs, and breaking the law and endangering innocent lives... I'm a hero, buy my book please" Boy, if I don't 'fess up they won't buy my book.

  7. David V, September 13, 2016 at 12:48 p.m.

    Wow, she is calling herself a hero... "But I hope in so doing, we can change the conversation about what it means to be a 'hero.' Heroes fail. They fall down. They screw up. Heroes tell the truth." .... In other words, "look at me, I told the truth about my crimes and drunken stupor, and abusing drugs, so I'm a hero"... please buy my book!

  8. David V, September 13, 2016 at 12:50 p.m.

    Paul Kennedy: bad title to your article.
    It should read "Wambach SAYS DUI arrest was wakeup call to addictions"

  9. Gordon Holt, September 13, 2016 at 12:58 p.m.

    Take your feet off her neck, people.

  10. David V, September 13, 2016 at 1:14 p.m.

    Here's a story about a HERO... good on you, Paul Kennedy... http://www.socceramerica.com/article/70232/lauren-holiday-will-require-surgery-for-brain-tumo.html

  11. David V replied, September 13, 2016 at 1:44 p.m.

    might be nice to go there and talk about a real hero

  12. Ginger Peeler, September 13, 2016 at 4:34 p.m.

    David, little girls have been looking up to Abby as a hero for years! They grew up playing soccer and wanting to be like her. So, of course she's aware of her hero status. After being stopped and charged with the DUI, she apologized to her fans, teammates, team and country because she knew she'd let them down. That took courage. To admit to everyone that she screwed up. And, in discussing the book, she points out that many heroes "have feet of clay". Since biblical times, people we admire have often proved to be disappointing in one way or another (morally, spiritually, etc). A lot of people care for and about Abby still. My exhusband died of alcoholism. Addiction to any substance is devastating. Some people never admit their addiction, some seek and find help, many relapse. It is a struggle every single day. She has begun that fight. I wish anyone battling addiction well...my husband lost his fight and he died as a result. If she can remain "clean and sober", then her story stands as a testament to others that addictions can be overcome. Taking that first step...admitting you have a problem...is very, very difficult. But her actions in confronting her addiction, as set forth in her book, may help someone who is even now struggling with addiction to take that first step. David, I sincerely hope that you never have to deal personally with a family member or friend who is suffering from an addiction. It would quickly open your eyes, but causes a pain I would not wish on anyone.

  13. John M Cote, September 13, 2016 at 6:24 p.m.

    Hey, James e Chandler and sub commenters - five words: go jump in the lake (or, three words: go to hell. Wambach is the G.O.A.T. Let he (or she) who is without sin cast the first stone. Over to you.

  14. David V replied, September 13, 2016 at 11:37 p.m.

    I see you are consistently compassionate toward all... we in your words are to "go to hell"

  15. Goal Goal, September 13, 2016 at 9:34 p.m.

    I have been involved with someone very close to me fighting an addiction. I have also lost a family member to the negligence of a drunk driver. Everyone fights a battle of one thing or another everyday. However most fight it personally and quietly and don't try to use their notoriety to capitalize off of it and that is what I see happening in this case. Say what you want. I say it's not a good thing.

  16. Tracey Bell, September 13, 2016 at 11:07 p.m.

    Well put Ginger Peller...Abby is a role model & hero in young girls eyes. I'm a few years older than Abby but played women's soccer many years, soccer is my passion, and she is to be revered in the world of soccer. Have all you haters even considered.....she wrote the book for self-healing purpose and like Ginger said, how much will she really make.

    Fanfare soccer - do you know for a FACT she's TRYING to capitalize off her notoriety? Doubt it!

    ~Abby's fan 4 ever

  17. David V replied, September 13, 2016 at 11:49 p.m.

    "haters"? Who said she is hated? She is to be pitied, I pity her, I don't hate her. To suggest we are haters is very judgemental of you. But besides pitying her, I don't think that means she is a hero because she has owned up to criminal behavior. Since when does owning up to criminal behavior and owning up to the endangering innocent lives (which I don't think she's ever said by the way), since when does that make you a hero? I personally would hope that whatever demons are plaguing her would be overcome, but that doesn't make her a hero. And because I don't think it makes her a hero, it doesn't make me a hater. And to use your own standard, do you really know for a FACT she ISN'T TRYING to capitalize off her notoriety? Doubt it!

  18. Goal Goal replied, September 15, 2016 at 9:34 p.m.

    Tracey I am a fan of hers. I am not a hater.
    Some folks seem to have a problem with the opinion of others if it doesn't agree with theirs. Labeling her as a hero is pretty far fetched. She may have been a role model for the youngsters but she has tarnished that view with her off the field actions. She has some rebuilding to do but unfortunately she will have a difficult time doing that because her career is over. Her only motivation to being honest was getting caught and now she is useing the book as her crutch in getting sympathy and making money. Can I say I am sure of that? No I can't it is just my opinion. One thing I am sure of. She does not qualify as a hero.

  19. Ginger Peeler, September 14, 2016 at 12:21 a.m.

    Fanfor, I understand where you're coming from. However, not everyone in this world is out to make money off of others. I don't know how old you are, but a woman, Betty Ford, President Gerald Ford's wife, made headlines when she talked openly about her breast cancer and treatments. That just wasn't done back then. Then she was subjected to a family intervention for alcohol and opioid drugs. After getting clean, she opened the Betty Ford Clinic for people suffering from all kinds of addictions. And this ex-First Lady wrote a book about her struggles. Later, she published a book about some of her clinic's patients and their trials and tribulations. But by her open attitude, she made it possible for the whole nation to actually discuss these problems. Nowadays, not too many young women could relate to Betty's message, but they can certainly relate to Abby's. I'm not sure why you're cynical about Abby's motives.

  20. Kurt Thomas, September 14, 2016 at 1:54 a.m.

    She kicked a little ball around a field, that is the defintion of a hero? She is a Diva.

  21. Ginger Peeler, September 14, 2016 at 10:02 a.m.

    No, Kurt...she buried that little ball in the back of the net 184 times and she "is the leading career scorer - male or female- in international soccer". That's why she is one among our nation's many sports heroes: Babe Ruth for baseball, Tiger Woods (another hero with "feet of clay") for golf, LeBron James for basketball, Eli Manning for football...you get the gist. The examples I named come from different generations of our nation's sports heroes who are still held in high esteem regarding their sport for hitting, throwing, and bouncing a little ball around. Each of those athletes excelled at their sport and young girls and boys and men and women looked up to them and wanted (and still want) to play like them.

  22. Paula Barrett, September 15, 2016 at 1:10 a.m.

    Thank you, Ginger, for trying to educate people on addiction. Living with an addict is a living hell. Abby was a great player and will continue to be a role model, not only because of her scoring prowess but additionally because of her honesty.

  23. Goal Goal, September 15, 2016 at 8:37 p.m.

    It's interesting that the motivation for her "honesty" was being caught by the police. I wonder when the honesty would have appeared if she had not been exposed through apprehension. Thank God before she injured or killed herself or someone else. Then she finds herself exposed to the public because of famous status and what comes next. Write a book placing the blame on her struggle with the demons. Hero she is not. A human being with flaws like all us is what she is. To try and make this a human interest story is nuts. This is a tragedy in many ways.

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