Megan Rapinoe, World Cup Winner, Pays Tribute To Brother In Recovery

By Lindsey Weedston 07/10/19

Rapinoe's brother is now 18 months sober.

World Cup Winner Megan Rapinoe
Photo via Wikimedia/Jamie Smedd

Professional soccer midfielder and newly crowned World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe gave a shoutout to her brother for his birthday during a post-win interview with Fox Soccer.

Her brother, Brian, has struggled with addiction for much of his life to the point of experiencing legal troubles, including a total of 16 years in prison.

“Just one thing: Happy birthday, Brian. I love you so much,” Megan said at the end of the brief interview just before blowing a kiss to the camera.

The Road To Re-Entry

Brian is currently spending the end of his latest prison sentence in a rehabilitation program that allows inmates with addiction disorders to spend their last 12 months working on themselves and taking classes as they prepare to re-enter society.

Due to the fact that he is still technically serving his sentence, he could not travel to France to witness his sister’s victory in person.

However, according to a profile by ESPN, Brian had been watching the tournament in the common room at the San Diego Male Community Reentry Program with his recovery buddies.

“He sat on a couch in his red USA jersey, watching on a 60-inch flat-screen, and felt ‘f—ing great,’" reported Gwendolyn Oxenham. “He had accomplished a major goal for himself: to get out of prison in time to watch his kid sister play in her third World Cup.”

Treasured Memories

Brian’s struggles with substance use began at age 12 and his trouble with the law began at 15 when he brought meth to school. He later ran with white supremacist gangs, a not-uncommon result of being in and out of the prison system, though he now rejects and regrets that part of his past.

Before that, Brian was the treasured big brother who taught Megan (and their sisters) how to play soccer, setting up cones in a field across from their church.

“And it wasn't like he drilled them. He let them do it their own way,” their mother Denise Rapinoe told ESPN. "It was just the cutest thing, and we remember it so clearly."

Now 18 months sober, Brian is the one looking to Megan for inspiration. At age 38, he says he has finally turned a corner and is looking for ways that he can use his experience to participate in early intervention programs for at-risk teens.

“I want to make a difference,” he said. “I want to be like Megan.”

Megan and Brian have kept in contact via letters and texts over the years and remain very important to each other. Two months before Megan’s latest World Cup win, they had a long talk about racial prejudice and police brutality. The soccer star is incredibly happy about her brother’s progress.

“It would be such a shame if he left this world with nothing but prison sentences behind him,” she said. “To be able to have him out, and to play for him, and to have him healthy, with this different perspective that he has now: This is like the best thing ever."

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Lindsey Weedston is a Seattle area writer focused on mental health and addiction, politics, human rights, and various social issues. Her work has appeared in The Establishment, Ravishly, ThinkProgress, Little Things, Yes! Magazine, and others. You can find her daily writings at Twitter: