With her memoir set for publication on Tuesday, retired U.S. women’s soccer star Abby Wambach is opening up about her years of substance abuse. In an interview with the Associated Press, she said her arrest on a DUI charge in April served as a wake-up call.
“I was stubborn and I was in denial,” she said. “I didn’t want to face the truth.”
Wambach was charged with DUI after police in Portland, Ore., pulled her over for running a red light in the early morning of April 3. According to the arrest records, she admitted to using marijuana and cocaine in the past. Wambach eventually pleaded guilty, entering a diversion program for first-time offenders, and posted a message on Facebook immediately following her arrest in which she took full responsibility for her actions.
“That night getting arrested was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Because if I don’t get so publicly shamed and publicly humiliated, I don’t think I wake up,” she told the AP. “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.”
Wambach’s autobiography, “Forward: A Memoir,” is available for sale on Tuesday. In it, the AP reports that she “tells of her bouts with vodka and pills, which included Vicodin, Ambien and Adderall.” Wambach, 36, also discusses her relationship struggles with fellow soccer player Sarah Huffman, whom she married in 2013 but is in the process of divorcing. Those stressors — combined with the fact that she was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life after retiring from competitive soccer in December — all contributed to her arrest in April.
Now, however, Wambach seems to be confronting her situation head-on. Earlier this year, world soccer’s all-time leading goal-scorer began a weekly podcast, and she landed a high-profile job providing soccer commentary for ESPN. She told the AP that she’s been sober since the night of her arrest.
“It’s really hard to talk about things when you’re ashamed,” she told the AP. “And I’m not ashamed about what happened to me anymore because it led me to where I’m at right now. I’m proud of where I’m at.”