It was the night before the big day. Thirty-one-year-old Olympic soccer star Hope Solo was in the final hours of the single life, due to tie the knot with Jerramy Stevens on what was also the former Seahawks star tight end’s 33rd birthday—November 13, 2012. Then the party turned into a melee. Despite the celebratory air of a pre-matrimony gathering at Solo’s Kirkland home, the long night ended in an eruption of booze and emotion. Police arriving at Solo’s luxury home overlooking Lake Washington termed it a drunken scrap that drew blood. Solo suffered a laceration, and Stevens emerged with blood on his shirt and cheek. When asked about the red smudges, he said, oddly, that it was the result of a kiss from his future wife.
Stevens, the first Seahawk to catch a Super Bowl touchdown pass, was released from jail the next day and, healing from their pre-wedding bash, the loving couple entered into marital bliss. The 5´9˝ bride with the then-ebony mane stood next to the neatly goateed 6´7˝ groom—the top of her head barely reaching the bottom of his chin—and said their I-do’s at pastoral Bella Luna Farms near Snohomish. Tom Douglas catered, serving lamb chops, short ribs, and “pie extravaganza. Stevens apparently provided some musical entertainment. “He seems really nice, very polite, sweet and friendly and open,” Solo’s aunt Kathleen Shaw told a reporter, “and he sings like a dream.”
The media twisted the Kirkland incident out of shape, Solo said afterward. “I know the people closest to me are the only ones who really know what happened. The facts are out there if people really want to find them out—they can go and find them out in the police report.”
She has complained about gossip and media exaggeration on other occasions, and insists the celebrity duo doesn’t deserve its portrayal as a pair of bickering troublemakers. At other times, Solo has said she doesn’t really care what others think of her. Stevens consistently does not comment when asked. Neither he, she, or their public-relations handlers responded to an interview request for this story. Their attorney, Todd Maybrown, says he forwarded Seattle Weekly’s request to the PR contacts, but “As you might imagine, there have been many inquiries” for interviews.
One request Solo did accept the other day was from Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America. The session gave Solo the chance to talk freely and tell her side in a setting devoid of police reports. During one recent headline-grabbing event—a family fight last summer with her half-sister Teresa Obert and Obert’s teen son—she was wrongly accused as the perpetrator, Solo told Roberts. “I was the victim of domestic violence at the hands of my 17-year-old nephew, who is six-foot-nine, 280 pounds. I was struck over the head and concussed pretty severely. It was a very scary night.”
That’s different from the stories we’ve all heard. But, as Solo suggested, let’s indeed go read the records—the police and court reports, among others. Just be aware there’s a catch—the public documents are incomplete, too. Neither Solo nor Stevens likes to put much on the record. In their most recent run-ins with the law, they have tended to be tight-lipped, and have urged others to clam up as well, while complaining that the full story never gets told.
For example, police couldn’t get them to say much about the wedding-eve fight, which took place at the home Solo had bought a half year earlier. It wasn’t long after she moved into the $1.5 million abode that she began dating Stevens, whom she knew from the University of Washington when both were standouts on the soccer pitch and football turf, respectively, between 1998 and 2001. Solo, the two-time Olympic gold-medal goalkeeper with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team who also plays for the Seattle Reign FC and has a contract to promote Nike sportswear, is, like Stevens, a millionaire—as her new home attests, with its sport court, swimming pool, six-car garage, and sweeping lake and city view.
According to police and court reports and a 911 recording, Solo’s brother, Marcus, 35, made four calls to Kirkland PD from the home just after 3 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2012. He told a dispatcher of a “little fight in the house” that apparently required use of a stun gun to end it. There was “definitely a physical altercation and an innocent bystander got hurt,” Marcus said.
When police arrived, they found a woman (not Hope) lying on the floor with a hip injury. Marcus Solo had bloody knees, a forehead cut, and the start of a shiner. Hope had a bloody elbow. Both siblings were intoxicated. Following an odor trail of marijuana, officers discovered Stevens in an upstairs bedroom, on the floor between a wall and the bed. He appeared to be hiding. Stevens, despite those blood spots on his cheek and shirt, claimed he had slept through all the commotion.
Both Stevens and the Solos had past experiences with law enforcement, having grown up among guns and badges. Stevens, who had earlier arrests for assault and rape, was the son of a female police officer. The Solo siblings were the offspring of the first female prison guard at Monroe and a father who spent time in prison as an inmate. (Her twice-married father had his wives’ names tattooed on his arm since both, fortunately, happened to be named Judy Lynn Solo). It was during a conjugal visit, behind bars, Hope Solo recalls in her 2012 biography, that she was conceived.
She grew up in Richland, learning to play soccer in the fields along the Columbia River. She and Marcus “shared our father’s DNA: piercing eyes, Italian coloring, intense emotions,” she writes in Solo: A Memoir of Hope. Dad bailed from the family after he was caught stealing $1,800 by using her grandfather’s checkbook to write checks to himself, Hope recalls. Their car was repossessed and they were evicted from their home by the sheriff for nonpayment of mortgage—Dad had made off with that money, too. He was later busted for embezzlement and, during his marriage to the second Judy Lynn, had an affair with a minister’s wife. Among his many arrests was the time he called in a bomb threat to the local credit union, causing a SWAT team to kick down his door.
Solo stretches prior to a Reign FC match, Stevens with her in spirit. Photo by Mike Russell.
So when police arrived at the pre-nuptial scene that morning, Hope and Jerramy weren’t exactly rookies as persons of interest. In the police report, Hope is called uncooperative. On a 911 audio tape obtained by KOMO-TV, she can be heard conferring with her brother about what not to say, telling him “My husband is going to go to jail.”
“No, he won’t,” says Marcus.
“No, he will. He’s on probation,” Hope says.
The two had long had a testy sibling rivalry. She and Marcus fought often, she recalls in her book. “I called him fat and stupid and whatever cruel things I could think of.” Like her, Marcus had a rep in high school—she was a freshman when he was a senior. He was often “fighting, drinking, driving under the influence” as a teen, Hope writes, and she did some of the same. She was 17 when her then-boyfriend got pulled over for drinking—but she, not him, had been imbibing, and they were let go. School officials heard of the stop, and Solo was suspended from the Richland Bombers girls basketball team. (It was the same day news broke that she’d signed a letter of intent to play soccer for UW.) She later was kicked off the high-school team altogether. “It was the first time I realized that by excelling, I could become a target,” she recalls.
Marcus, according to a detective’s report on the pre-wedding bash, was heard saying they would lie to the police so Stevens wouldn’t get in trouble. Marcus blamed the fight on others, whom he did not identify, saying they had already left. Police arrested Stevens anyway, feeling he was responsible for assaulting Hope. He was booked and then released the next afternoon by a court that could not find enough evidence to support the charge. In the end, with no one talking, police dropped the case. And after the wedding, Solo brushed it off. She was happily married, she said, and there had been no fisticuffs because “I would never stand for domestic violence. I’ve never been hit in my life.”
That could be true. Certainly no such charge was made in that case. And Solo’s aunt, Kathleen Shaw of Oregon, told The Oregonian there was more to the story, according to what she was told. The fight was between two drunk guests, one of whom insulted the other’s wife, she said. “When the husband reacted, the first guy took a swing at him and it started a fight,” she said. “Jerramy’s involvement was to walk into the room and try to stop them.” Hope was not hit, she added. The two reportedly had been fighting over where they would live after they were married, Kirkland or Florida. But, said Shaw, that’s “another false rumor.”
Still, some of Solo’s Twitter followers (863,000 at press time) wondered what she was doing marrying a “rapist,” as one put it, dredging up Stevens’ notorious history. Solo responded: “why do you speak of things that arent true? there was no charge because he was not guilty. People are too quick to judge.”
She’s right again. Stevens was arrested for rape in 2000, while still a Husky athlete, but never charged. The alleged victim, a UW freshman, said she thought she’d been drugged and sexually assaulted by Stevens outside a fraternity house; semen later found in her vagina and rectum was linked to Stevens by a DNA test. But then-King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng claimed there was insufficient evidence to bring a charge. The lead detective in the case told The Seattle Times the evidence was in fact “overwhelming” and that Stevens had got a pass because he was a Husky football star. (In 2003 Stevens was sued by the woman whom he denied raping outside the Sigma Chi fraternity. He and the fraternity settled for a $300,000 payment to her).
Stevens had also gotten a pass in 1998, it seemed, when he was in high school in Lacey, after he had accepted a UW scholarship. When he showed up to fight another River Ridge student, one of his buddies hit the teen in the head with a baseball bat. As he collapsed unconscious, Stevens stomped him, breaking his jaw. Charged with felony assault, Stevens was confined to his home wearing an electronic tracking device, but violated conditions by smoking weed and spent three weeks in jail. UW coaches wrote to the court seeking a break for Stevens, according to the Times’ report, calling the assault “an isolated incident.” Though Stevens seemingly had “a propensity toward violence,” had kicked a football teammate in the testicles, and threatened referees in a basketball game after he was ejected, court papers stated, he was allowed to negotiate a plea and was sentenced to time served.
Stevens enters Kirkland Municipal Court in June. Kirkland Reporter file photo.
Shortly after the rape charges were dropped in 2000, Stevens got another pass for a hit-and-run accident on the freeway. Though he left the scene, the State Patrol later cited him only for speeding. He then went on to become a serial arrestee. In 2001, he drove his pickup truck into the side of a Seattle retirement home, slightly injuring a 92-year-old woman whose dresser fell onto the bed where she was sleeping. He plea-bargained a suspended sentence on the promise that he stay out of trouble. In 2002, he left the UW early and was drafted by the Seahawks, signing a $6.2 million pact for five years. Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said “I really trust that everything is behind him.” Nonetheless, that year he was stopped for speeding at 98 mph, and later for negligent driving.
In 2003, he was stopped for suspected drunk driving, pled it down to reckless driving, and did seven days in jail. “You don’t want to be another Reggie Rogers,” Kirkland Municipal Court Judge Albert Raines told Stevens, referring to the former UW and NFL player whose long DUI record includes an accident that killed three teens. “You don’t want to cause another tragedy on the freeway.” Stevens’ attorney told the court to have faith, the footballer “is growing up,” he said.
But was he? “I do not have a problem with alcohol,” Stevens told the judge. Besides jail time and a $1,000 fine, he was forced by the NFL to enter a substance-abuse program. In 2006 he was back in court, stopped twice for driving with a suspended license. He got another 90 days suspended on the promise to stay out of trouble. In 2007 he was stopped for drunk driving in Arizona, his blood level more than twice the legal limit. He got 12 days in jail and a one-game suspension by the NFL. He was then released by the Seahawks, who’d had enough. “I would say it’s probably time for a change of scenery,” said the Seahawks’ general manager at the time,Tim Ruskell.
Also in 2007, after he was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Stevens was suspended one game for substance abuse. In 2008 he was suspended for two games and fined the equivalent of three game paychecks for substance abuse. In 2010 he was arrested for possession of 38 grams of marijuana; he got three years probation. The Buccaneers then waived him. In 2011 he was charged with felony battery for punching a pair of bouncers in a Tampa bar. In 2012 he was arrested for the wedding-eve fracas. A few weeks later, in Florida, because of the Kirkland arrest, he was busted for violating conditions of his Florida marijuana parole, then released.
Stevens was not around for the June 21, 2014, family fisticuffs at Solo’s half-sister’s place in Kirkland. According to police and court records, officers were called to handle a woman who was “going crazy and hitting people.” The nephew claimed “We just let her back into our lives . . . [she] always does this.” Solo, who’d been drinking, came without Stevens because, she said, “he was being a jerk” for refusing to drive her to the airport. Solo and the teen then allegedly got into an argument—“I then told her to get her cunt face out of my house,” the nephew told police. Solo allegedly called him a “pussy” and punched and tackled him, saying he was crazy and a “fat pig,” and allegedly attacked his mom, punching her when she tried to step in. The nephew clubbed Solo on the head with a wooden broomstick, and tried to get her to leave by pointing a broken BB gun at her. But she began circling him, “cornering me like a shark,” the teen claimed. She allegedly left the house, jumped a fence, re-entered, and attacked her half-sister again. Pictures of the sister and nephew taken after the fight, obtained by the website TMZ.com, show scratches, abrasions, and red spots on the hands, arms, neck, and head of the mother and son.
Solo was arrested on two counts of domestic violence. She claimed self-defense. In January of this year, a judge threw out the case after the half-sister and nephew apparently chose not to pursue charges, failing to show up for pretrial interviews. On her Facebook page (1.7 million likes as of press time), Solo thanked her legal team and soccer officials and teammates “whom, under great pressure to do otherwise, chose to stand by and believe in me,” adding, “I always had faith that once the facts of the case were presented, I would be cleared of all charges and I am so happy and relieved to finally have it all behind me.”
And then all back in front of her again. Prosecutors in February appealed the decision, claiming the judge abused his discretion in tossing the case. And Solo and Stevens had already climbed back into the headlines after the ex-footballer was stopped again for suspected drunk driving on January 19. Stevens was at the wheel and Solo was a passenger in a van rented by the U.S. women’s soccer team when it was pulled over near their hotel in Manhattan Beach, near Los Angeles. The national team was practicing in nearby Carson for upcoming matches. It was about 1:20 a.m. when the officer spotted Stevens driving without headlights on. Police by law won’t release the arrest report, and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office tells SW that charges have not yet been filed in public court. But TMZ.com says it has talked with police sources who claim Solo was belligerent and recorded the incident on her cell phone, supposedly asking an officer “Don’t you know who we are?”
Stevens was arrested and released on $5,000 bail with a court date set for March 19. “The timing is interesting,” TMZ noted, as did most news stories, “considering Solo was JUST let off the hook in a domestic violence case against her nephew and sister in which she was accused of going on a drunken violent tirade.”
With her off-field notoriety again outdistancing her on-field prowess—which includes a record 72 career shutouts against opponents—Solo was suspended by the U.S. Soccer Federation for 30 days, beginning January 21. She missed matches in France and England. Any further mistakes and she could miss this summer’s World Cup play. Despite her quick reflexes and masterful defensive play, Solo isn’t irreplaceable, as she first learned in 2007. Back then coach Greg Ryan benched Solo after she criticized veteran keeper Briana Scurry, causing Solo to miss some World Cup action. She didn’t take it lightly. Solo claimed Ryan shoved her during their talk (he denied it), and after her team lost 4-0, she boasted, “There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves.”
During that period and through the start of her marriage to Stevens, Solo cultivated a tough, outspoken image. Forget Seattle Reign, think Oakland Raiders. Her bio as a Nike spokesperson cites the “fighting spirit” of the “global icon,” explaining, “It’s true. Hope Solo has a chip on her shoulder. In fact, she has many: there’s her difficult childhood and then there’s the brouhaha that erupted in 2007 after she publically [sic] criticized one of her coaches. More generally, there are the numerous double standards she faces as a woman athlete. Most recently she took shots from critics who questioned her decision to participate in a televised dancing competition—no matter that when a national football star appeared in the same contest, he was praised for being the ultimate athlete.”
Much of this criticism, it should be noted, was over her claims that Dancing With the Stars was rigged and her accusation that she was slapped across the face by her partner, ballroom champion Maksim Chmerkovskiy, for missteps during practice. The bio continues, “Then there are the physical chips from years of competitive play, leading to major shoulder surgery that would have ended the careers of lesser competitors. But Hope is a fighter. These chips are merely motivation. They are what have made her not just the best female goalkeeper in the world but the best female goalkeeper the sport has ever seen.”
Solo seconds that. “I’m one of the best goalkeepers the country’s ever seen,” she said in a 2012 interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap. “I play to win. And speak the truth. And people either love me or hate me.” She added: “I have a lot of critics, we all know that, and I do, I do kinda want to say, you know—put my middle finger up to everybody and say—‘Think what you want about me. I am who I am. But at the end of the day I’m an athlete that wants to win.’ ”
Nike has stuck by her the past two years as she has endured more public ridicule. She, along with other celebs including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, was a target of an online theft of nude photos the women had uploaded to a cloud storage site. Though she posed in the buff for ESPN the Magazine’s “Body Issue” (as have Reign teammate Megan Rapinoe and the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch), those images were tastefully done. The stolen photos were not. They included graphic close-ups of her most intimate body parts, drawing crude comments and amazement that she would store such shots in cyberspace. The photos remain aloft on the web today.
Also, her 2014 domestic-violence charge came around the same time that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was indefinitely suspended by the NFL after knocking out his fiancee with a sucker punch. Nike dropped its pact with Rice, just as it did with Adrian Peterson when the Minnesota Viking was accused of child abuse—spanking his son with a switch—before the two had their days in court. But in what some called a double standard, the Soccer Federation as well as Nike chose to await the outcome of Solo’s court action. Cindy Boren of The Washington Post, observing that Solo was not only on the field but was being honored for her recent play, asked “While U.S. Soccer doesn’t have the same high profile as the NFL, how do the cases differ? Aren’t women’s soccer players just as much role models as male football players?” Solo seemed to answer that herself when she tweeted after the arrest that “I take seriously my responsibilities as a role model and sincerely apologize to everyone I have disappointed.”
Some have felt all along that an athlete’s private life should be off-limits to the public, especially misdemeanor incidents like Solo’s. “Perhaps Solo really is happy with her life and Stevens as her husband,” Adam Wells of Bleacher Report wrote after their wedding. “Solo defends her husband and his actions for whatever reasons. That is her choice, and no one else should be jumping down her throat to criticize her for the way she lives her life.”
It’s not just the press but the public that has it wrong, Solo thinks. In one tweet, she observed, “I feel bad for all the ignorance in the world. People are so quick to judge. The media spins stories in such dramatic fashion.” Of course, the surest way to stay out of the headlines is to stay out of the courts. And she’s trying now to do that, Solo indicated to Robin Roberts in that recent interview. She and Stevens made a mistake in deciding to let him drive the van, and she regrets that. “Clearly, I wasn’t thinking,” she said. “It was a horrible choice. I think I just wasn’t in a good place emotionally to even make good decisions.” Her voice cracked. She seemed on the verge of tears.
It’s a start—or a restart, perhaps. On February 21, she was reinstated to the U.S. women’s team and departed for Portugal the next day to play in the Algarve Cup, a series of matches considered warmups for World Cup play this summer. Still, as she told Roberts, “I’m a work in progress, and will continue to be a work in progress until the end of my days.” She didn’t say “Jerramy is too.” But she didn’t have to.