Two years after winning the 2015 Women’s World Cup with her team, retired soccer star Abby Wambach has much to be grateful for—including her newfound sobriety.
Arrested for driving under the influence in April 2016, Wambach later confessed in her memoir Forward that she had been abusing painkillers, Ambien, and alcohol, among other substances. Her high-intensity workouts and demanding schedule were bolstered with the drugs that had been prescribed to her—and abused—since 2007.
Although Wambach continued to win tournaments and dazzled crowds with her pure skill, her personal life suffered from a battle with addiction. Even as a world record holder—for the most international goals for both male and female soccer players—she struggled to cope with her demons.
“I had some really hard things I was dealing with, whether it be my relationship with my mom or this deep desire to be seen and not feel like I was ever really truly seen by anybody,” she wrote in her book.
Heeding a much-needed wake-up call, Wambach has been sober since the DUI charges occurred. In reflecting upon her extremely public arrest and the preceding events, she realized the potential she held to create a better future for herself.
“Thinking about the DUI, and thinking about how I wanted the DUI to impact me, it was an intentional decision to make that moment into the best thing that ever happened to me, a start to a better life,” she told the Associated Press.
Today, Wambach is married to Glennon Doyle Melton, an author and entrepreneur who shares Wambach’s commitment to sobriety. According to a profile written by Elle magazine, Doyle Melton “became bulimic at 10, had her first alcoholic blackout at 13, and checked into a mental hospital at 17.”
After a long journey, she has been sober for many years.
Together, Wambach and Doyle Melton live in Florida with Doyle Melton’s three children.
When asked about her path to recovery, Wambach concluded to the Associated Press that, “A year and a half ago when I was really struggling and pretty sick. If you were to tell me I’d be a stepmom and sober and living in Florida and as happy as I’ve ever been, I would have called you a liar.”
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