As an athlete, Abby Wambach was always known to never hold anything back and the Pittsford native is staying true to form in her debut as an author.
The former international soccer star, who's scheduled to do an appearance in Rochester on Friday night to promote her new book Forward, set to be released Tuesday, reveals that she abused alcohol and prescription drugs for years until her DUI arrest April 2 and that she's also getting divorced from Sarah Huffman, her longtime partner and former teammate.
All of that is according to a report by The Associated Press. "I was stubborn and I was in denial,” Wambach, 36, told the AP. “I didn’t want to face the truth.” People tried to help her, she said, including her family, but she didn't listen.
Wambach, the Our Lady of Mercy High School graduate who retired in December as the game's most prolific scorer with 184 goals, also describes "bouts with vodka and pills, which included Vicodin, Ambien and Adderall," according to the report, which says she labeled some of the chapters in the book "tomboy, captain, lesbian, and addict."
“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,” Wambach 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.”
According to the report, Wambach has been sober since being arrested in Portland, Oregon, where she and Huffman built a house. That was Wambach's low point. The mug shot taken that night was published and posted all over the Internet and used on television. She was struggling then, Wambach reveals in the book, with retirement and trouble in her marriage.
She and Huffman were teammates with the Western New York Flash in 2013 and before that with magicJack (2011) and the Washington Freedom. They were wed in a ceremony in Hawaii in October of 2013 and the kiss they shared moments after the United States team finally won the World Cup again in 2015 became a memorable moment on many levels. Huffman leaned over the edge of the seats and embraced Wambach.
Since then, they've rarely been seen in public or pictures on social media.
Her abuse of alcohol and use of prescription drugs certainly may reverberate because of her promoting a healthy lifestyle, which has included endorsement deals with MVP Healthcare and promoting New York state apples. She was honored with a key to the city during a celebration set up by the city of Rochester and MVP Healthcare on Dec. 17, the night after she played her final match for the American squad. She'd announced her retirement last October.
“Not only was I hiding this secret from the world for so long, so were the people that I loved — they loved me so fiercely they wanted to protect me as much as possible, almost from myself," Wambach told the AP. "Sarah was definitely one of my saving graces because she was one of the first people in my life who made me aware of the problems that I was having. And this was years ago. This isn’t something that just snuck up on me when I retired from soccer. This is something I’ve been dealing with for years now.”
Wambach is scheduled to be at the Barnes Noble, 1305 Mount Hope Ave., in Rochester at 7 p.m. Friday to promote her book.
"It’s really hard to talk about things when you’re ashamed,” she said. “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.”