Olympic soccer star Hope Solo is grabbing headlines – but not for her performance on the field. The goalie is releasing a memoir the week after the London games end, and she’s not holding anything back, including the shocking revelation that she was conceived in jail. Solo’s father Jeffrey John Solo was imprisoned for an embezzlement conviction in Walla Walla, Washington, and after a conjugal visit with his wife, baby Hope came along nine months later. But although her father was later released from jail, she says he could not shake his criminal mind.
“One spring, when I was a Brownie, the Girl Scout Cookie money went missing,” Solo, who turns 31 on July 30, writes in Solo: A Memoir of Hope. “Sometimes my father went missing. One morning, my mother went out to get her car and it was gone: repossessed for lack of payment.” Still, Solo was Daddy’s Little Girl. “He showered me with love; he just didn’t know how to be a husband or a father or a responsible member of society.”
When she was 7, Solo’s father kidnapped her and her younger brother Marcus after picking them up from a Little League game and continued driving until he got to Seattle, where the trio hid out in a hotel for days until her mother called police and they were discovered at a bank. Jeffrey Solo was arrested on site. As her mother drove Solo and Marcus back home, “I boiled with anger,” she writes. “I was mad at my mother for taking us home. Mad at my father for lying to us. Mad at myself for doing something wrong. I was mad at the world.”
After the kidnapping, her father was jailed and she lost all contact with him for over a decade until a chance encounter when she spotted him walking through a public park. The two instantly reconnected and he began attending all of his daughter’s soccer games at the University of Washington – even though he was living in a tent in the woods. But the relationship turned tense once again in 2001 when Jeffrey Solo was named a person of interest in the murder of a local realtor (his name was later cleared in 2010).
Solo’s rollercoaster relationship with her father finally came to an end in 2007 when he died of a heart attack shortly before he was set to fly to New York City to watch his daughter compete in the World Cup. Although it was a devastating blow, Solo tried to focus on the good times they shared. “If I hadn’t made peace with him later in my life,” she writes in her book, “I’d still be bitter and angry.”
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