The untold truth of Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe was the talk of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France and not just for her dominant play on the field. The Golden Boot winner, a title awarded to the tournament's top goal scorer, and Golden Ball winner, a title awarded to the tournament's top player, made headlines for her outspoken nature and colorful personality, which is nothing new for Rapinoe. She has always been a little different, and she's always had a knack for backing it up on the field.

Rapinoe is the same player who once picked up a live microphone after scoring in the 2011 World Cup and sang Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA." She told Out, "I definitely like to entertain. … This game and this life are too serious to not just totally mess around sometimes." That's a big part of Rapinoe's appeal. People can't get enough of the showwoman. For those fans, here's the untold truth of Megan Rapinoe.

Megan Rapinoe grew up in a conservative area

Believe it or not, the liberal and outspoken Megan Rapinoe was raised in an extremely conservative part of northern California. She comes from a large Christian family and just so happened to grow up across the street from a church in Palo Cedro, Calif., as reported by Yahoo! Sports. She's the youngest of six, but only by about 11 minutes (her fraternal twin sister Rachael was born shortly before her). According to ESPN, their brother Brian introduced the twins to the sport of soccer when they were 4 years old and would regularly play with them on the field across from the church.

Because Megan and Rachael were hooked on the sport by a young age, their mother, Denise, signed them up for soccer when they were 5 years old. But Denise also got them involved in community service as well, as noted by Sports Illustrated. They volunteered at their church, at homeless shelters, and at food banks.

Megan Rapinoe was no stranger to losing

Long before she was a World Cup champion, Megan Rapinoe was losing youth soccer games. Lots of them. "My teams lost all the time when I was growing up," Rapinoe wrote in a Q&A for The Players Tribune. "My teams didn't start winning until I was midway through high school." Did that keep her from succeeding in the sport? Obviously not, which is why she wants people to not take youth soccer so seriously.

She recommends that parents not try to map out their kid's path to the pros. "The only true path is this: Give your child the freedom to have fun and be a kid," she wrote, "and see what happens." That's what Rapinoe's parents did. "Our mom and dad were never pushy," Rapinoe wrote in another Players Tribune article. "It was always up to [my sister] Rach and I whether we wanted to play or not." It's hard to argue with that approach. The results speak for themselves.

Why Megan Rapinoe came out when she did

Megan Rapinoe never really hid her sexuality. She had been out to friends and family for years, but she'd never revealed she was gay publicly until an interview with Out in 2012. Her reasoning for coming out publicly? "I feel everyone is really craving [for] people to come out," she said. "People want — they need — to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol' U.S. of A."

It was former teammate Lori Lindsey who encouraged her to come out publicly on the flight back from the 2011 World Cup. "I had become more vocal for gay marriage and gay rights on social media, and at some point it just felt a little inauthentic," Rapinoe told the New York Times. "Lori said it and it was like one of those moments where I was like, 'You know, you're right.'"

Rapinoe's parents were concerned about the backlash, but she said the announcement had the opposite effect. Rapinoe told Yahoo! Sports that people have told her she "gave them the push or the confidence that they needed to be themselves, or tell their families [they're gay], or come out."

Megan Rapinoe's twin is also gay

Megan Rapinoe and her twin sister, Rachael, are close — so close that they opted to attend the University of Portland together. They both played for the school's soccer team, winning the 2005 national championship together, and both played professionally, though Rachael's pro career was short-lived.

It was during their sophomore year at Portland that they would discover they had something else in common. The two sisters had a heart-to-heart conversation and came out to each other. "It was just a matter of one of us saying it first," Rachael told The New York Times. "That was really it. I had been dating someone and one of us said it first. It was a ripple effect. We both kind of came to the realization that we're in this together."

The sisters later co-founded their Rapinoe brand, which describes itself as "a soccer and performance training business and a lifestyle apparel business." The brand advocates for LGBTQ organization GLSEN, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and the Human Rights Campaign, among others.

Megan Rapinoe dated a fellow soccer player

Megan Rapinoe got close with fellow soccer player Sarah Walsh in 2009 while playing in the now-defunct Women's Professional Soccer league, as noted by The New York Times. A long-distance relationship ensued, which became an even longer long-distance relationship when Walsh moved back to her native Australia two years later. Rapinoe said long-distance romances are sort of common in professional sports, so they didn't feel like their relationship was all that out of the norm. "Most people who are in a relationship on our team, it's basically long distance because we're gone so much," Rapinoe told Us Weekly in 2012, adding that Walsh "gets it" and that she's "great."

Walsh spoke just as highly of Rapinoe in an interview with The New York Times in 2013. She said, "We make fun of each other a lot and one of the things I love about her is that she can make fun of herself. People are drawn to her." The pair, however, would end up calling it quits that same year, according to the New York Post.

Taking a knee "wasn't easy" for Megan Rapinoe

Following in the footsteps of former NFL star Colin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the national anthem in 2016 to protest injustice and inequality, making her the first white athlete to do so. She told Yahoo! Sports that Kaepernick inspired her "to actually think about these things" and made her feel like she had no choice but to take a knee. "Like, how can you not support?" she asked.

The backlash was immediate. Registration for her training clinic dipped, as did apparel sales on her website. Her U.S. teammate Carli Lloyd called it a "distraction" (via Sports Illustrated). Rapinoe took a ton of heat on social media from the right, and it got so bad that, for the following game, she had two police officers assigned to her as a precaution. "It wasn't easy for me," Rapinoe said. "But it shouldn't be. … This is what it's going to take for things to change, norms to change, conventions to change, to try to break down white supremacy and break down racial bias."

Megan Rapinoe's "peaceful protest"

At the time of this writing, Megan Rapinoe no longer kneels during the national anthem like she previously did due to a U.S. Soccer rule put in place, but that doesn't mean she fully participates in the pre-game tradition. She now stands alongside her teammates as the song plays, refusing to sing along or, as is tradition, cover her heart with her hand. Rapinoe told Yahoo! Sports that the anthem has become a "somber moment" for her and described her new approach to it as a "peaceful protest."

And it doesn't sound like she will go back to singing along or putting her hand over her heart until significant changes are made. "It would take a lot," she said. "It would take criminal justice reform. It would take the huge inequality gap that we have to be much better. It would take a lot of progress in LGBTQ rights. We just have such a disparity in this country in so many different ways, inequality in so many different ways."

Megan Rapinoe's brother has spent much of his life in prison

There was probably a lot on Megan Rapinoe's mind after winning the 2019 World Cup, but she still remembered to wish her brother Brian a happy birthday during a post-game interview. As much as Brian would have liked to have been at the match, he couldn't haven been there because he was in a Male Community Reentry Program.

Brian has been in and out of incarceration ever since he brought meth to school at age 15, according to ESPN. By 18, he was doing heroin. Over the years, he's been charged with car theft, a hit-and-run, and three assaults while in jail, among other crimes. To make matters worse, Brian, who spent eight years in solitary confinement, at one point joined a white prison gang and was inked with hateful tattoos. 

But Rapinoe never gave up on him. "My brother is special. … It would be such a shame if he left this world with nothing but prison sentences behind him," she said. Brian has since had the disturbing tattoos removed or covered and, as of 2019, has claimed he's been clean for 18 months.

Megan Rapinoe was once engaged

The summer of 2015 was an eventful one for Megan Rapinoe. She followed up her team's 2015 World Cup victory by proposing to her girlfriend Sera Cahoone the following month. Rapinoe announced the engagement to the former Band of Horses member in a since-deleted Instagram post. "This little lady is getting married," Rapinoe wrote alongside a photo of herself and Cahoone revealing her engagement ring, according to Us Weekly. The magazine also reported Cahoone posted a pic of her own with the caption, "This little lady is getting married too!"

Fast forward to 2016. Curve asked Rapinoe about wedding plans, to which she responded, "We put them on pause because we started planning and everything and — that s**t is stressful." She added, "We decided to take a break for a little bit, but we're enjoying being engaged, and we're taking full advantage of that." The following year it was revealed those plans were no longer "on pause," but were instead apparently canceled

How Megan met Sue

WNBA star Sue Bird came out in an article with espn W in 2017, but that wasn't the only nugget she dropped about her personal life in the story. She also revealed that she had been dating Megan Rapinoe since the fall of 2016. Both Bird and Rapinoe were playing in Seattle at the time and had hit it off at a 2016 Rio Olympics event. "It was kinda like, 'OK, we both live in Seattle, we should be friends. Why aren't we friends?'" Rapinoe told the Seattle Times.

A relationship developed after that, in part due to their similar backgrounds. "We have a lot in common and just sort of clicked," Rapinoe told espn W. "I joke she is my No. 1 go-to-for-advice person. She's just so level-headed." One thing they don't have in common is their demeanor. "I can be quiet and a little shy," Bird told espn W. Rapinoe, on the other hand, is, um, like the exact opposite.

Megan Rapinoe celebrated the 2015 World Cup win... at halftime

The United States was up comfortably against Japan at halftime of the 2015 World Cup final, but you wouldn't know the score was 4-1 from the mood in the U.S. locker room, according to Sue Bird's op-ed in The Players Tribune. She said Megan Rapinoe told her the team was going over miscues from the first half and talking strategy for the second half. It was behavior typical of athletes and coaches, who tend to wait until the end of games to celebrate because you never know if a team will make a comeback. Except in this case it was clear the game was in hand. It's just nobody wanted to say it. Well, except one person.

Bird said Rapinoe was doing her best to put on her game face just like her teammates, but she couldn't "deal with the ceremony of it all." Her excitement eventually got the best of her and led her to scream in front of the team what everybody else was thinking: "WE'RE GONNA WIN THE WORLD CUP. WE'RE. GONNA. WIN. THE. WORLD CUP!!!" And just like Rapinoe colorfully predicted, the U.S. did exactly that, winning the match 5-2.

This celeb partly inspired Megan Rapinoe's look

The first thing you probably notice when looking at Megan Rapinoe is her hair. It's short and usually bleached blond. But Rapinoe can't take all the credit for the look. She admitted in an interview with Out that she somewhat stole the hairstyle from another short-haired celebrity. "I'm totally obsessed with Tilda Swinton," Rapinoe said of the Oscar-winning actress. "She has this strange, beautiful sexiness about her. I love everything she does. And I love her hair. It was a little bit of an inspiration for mine."

Rapinoe altered her look for the 2019 World Cup, opting for pinkish purple hair, much to the dismay of girlfriend Sue Bird. The WNBA star wrote in The Players Tribune that she was "against it" because, if things went well, Rapinoe would "be memorialized in all of these pictures that will be around for … EVER!" At least one person seems to have really liked the pinkish purple hairdo. During the World Cup quarterfinals, actor Zac Efron tweeted, "I'm dying my hair purple. Let's go!! #USWMNT #Rapinoe.

Megan Rapinoe's anti-Trump stance goes back years

Given Megan Rapinoe's strong political views, Eight by Eight asked her in 2019 if she would be willing to visit the White House should the U.S. win the World Cup, as has been tradition. Rapinoe didn't mince words, responding, "I'm not going to the f***ing White House." The video clip made national news and clearly irked President Donald Trump, who responded via Twitter, "Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!"

But this wasn't the first time she has spoken out against Trump. Her disdain goes back years. She called Trump a "jerk but entertaining" in an op-ed for the Players Tribune in 2015 and posted an Instagram pic presumably of her hand giving a Trump building the finger in 2016. That same year, Rapinoe told FourFourTwo it was "upsetting" that "50,000,000 people in this country felt that it was okay to elect that kind of person," and she told Yahoo! Sports prior to the 2019 World Cup that she is "a walking protest when it comes to the Trump administration" because of her beliefs. Needless to say, her dislike of Trump runs deeper than just a difference of opinion.

Megan Rapinoe comes from a "very patriotic family"

Megan Rapinoe wasn't the only one that felt the backlash due to her kneeling during the national anthem. Her mother told Yahoo! Sports she felt the heat as well in her conservative county, which strongly disapproved of her famous daughter's gesture. People reportedly called her home constantly. Some even confronted her at the restaurant where she worked for three decades, which had pictures of her daughter hanging on the walls until the restaurant took them down.

Her mother says they come from a "very patriotic family." She shared, "Her dad was drafted during the Vietnam War. … Her grandfather, who lives with us, he's 94, World War II vet. My father, Korean War, suffered many injuries. I mean, we have a long family history of service to the country." Rapinoe's mother and father were upset about the way their daughter protested, but not her reason for protesting. "I just said, 'Couldn't there have been another vehicle?'" her mother admitted. Clearly nothing could stop Rapinoe from wholeheartedly supporting the causes she cares about.