There’s no question Mia Hamm is one of the best women’s soccer players to ever play the game. While she dominated on the soccer field throughout her career, she was also a trailblazer and inspiration for countless young girls. In a time when not many female athletes were well-known in pop culture, Hamm became a sensation.
Hamm won two World Cup Championships throughout her 17 years on the team, as well as two Olympic gold medals. Though she’s been retired for over 15 years, her legacy will no doubt live on forever. Here are nine fascinating facts you need to know about the soccer superstar.
Born With a Club Foot
It’s hard to imagine Hamm never playing soccer, but she wasn’t born with perfect feet. In fact, she had to wear corrective shoes as a toddler because she was born with a club foot.
Hamm was born in Selma, Alabama, but her family moved around a lot because her father was in the United States Air Force. In fact, it was when they were living in Florence, Italy that Hamm first started playing soccer. She fell in love with the sport in Italy and decided to keep playing when the family moved back to the United States.
At just 15 years old, Hamm made her debut for the US Women’s National Team back in 1987. At the time, she was the youngest person to ever play for the team.
Held the Record For Most Goals
Hamm held the record for most international goals scored by a man or a woman — 158 goals, to be exact — until 2013. Fellow US Women’s National Team player Abby Wambach first broke her record in 2013, but Wambach’s record was eventually broken by Canadian player Christine Sinclair in 2017. Hamm is still third on the all-time scoring list.
One of Two Women
Back in March 2004, Hamm and her fellow US Women’s National Team teammate, Michelle Akers, were the only two women named to the FIFA 100, which was a list of the 125 greatest living soccer players. The list was selected by soccer legend Pelé in honor of FIFA’s 100th anniversary.
First Woman Inducted
In 2013, Hamm became the first woman inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame. Since her induction, three other women have been included.
Honoring Her Brother
Hamm lost her brother, Garrett, in 1997 from complications of aplastic anemia, which is a rare blood disease. She decided to start the Mia Hamm Foundation a few years later, which helps families in need of bone marrow or cord blood transplants.
Family of Champions
Hamm married Boston Red Sox player Nomar Garciaparra in November 2003. The couple welcomed twin girls, Grace and Ava, in March 2007, and had a son, Garrett, in January 2012.
Though she decided not to get into coaching, Hamm is still involved in the soccer community. In October 2014, she was announced as a co-owner of the MLS team Los Angeles FC. She is also on the board of directors of Serie A team A.S. Roma, as well as the global ambassador for FC Barcelona.