Mia Hamm Biography, Career, Records, Awards, Relationships

Mia Hamm is widely regarded as the greatest female soccer player in history. She was a member of the United States women’s national soccer team for 17 years, amassing one of the largest fan bases of any American athlete. She won the Women’s World Cup in 1991 and 1999, as well as gold medals at the Olympics in 1996 and 2004. Until June 2013, Hamm held the record for most international goals scored, which was beaten by fellow American Abby Wambach.

Early Life and Career

Mia Hamm, a soccer player, was born Mariel Margaret Hamm on March 17, 1972, in Selma, Alabama. Hamm, widely regarded as the best female soccer player in history, played for the United States women’s national team for 17 years, amassing one of the largest fan bases of any American athlete. FIFA named her “World Player of the Year” in 2001 and 2002.

Hamm, the daughter of an Air Force pilot, moved around a lot as a child and thanks her brother, Garrett, for inspiring her to participate in sports. Hamm was the youngest player to play for the national squad at the age of 15. Hamm attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a member of the team that won four straight NCAA women’s championships.

Olympic Gold

At the age of 19, Hamm became the youngest team member in history to win the World Cup in 1991. Hamm and her colleagues, including Michelle Akers, Brandi Chastain, and Kristine Lilly, won gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, five years later. (They’d go on to win gold again in 2004.) When she scored her 108th goal for the United States squad in 1999, she broke the record held by Italian star Elisabetta Vignotto. Hamm retained the record until June 2013, when it was broken by fellow American Abby Wambach.

Other honors include being awarded Soccer USA’s “Female Athlete of the Year” five years in a row (1994-98), being selected Women’s Cup MVP in 1995, and earning three ESPY Awards, including “Soccer Player of the Year” and “Female Athlete of the Year.” She and colleague Michelle Akers were included to FIFA’s list of the “125 Greatest Living Soccer Players” in 2004, becoming the only women and Americans on the list at the time.

Personal Life

Christiaan Corry, Hamm’s college sweetheart, married her in 1994. Hamm married professional baseball star Nomar Garciaparra in 2003 after the couple divorced in 2001. Hamm retired after helping her team win gold at the 2004 Summer Olympics to have a family.

After her brother, Garrett, died of complications from a rare blood condition called aplastic anemia shortly after the 1996 Olympics, Hamm established the Mia Hamm Foundation, which is committed to bone marrow research, in 1999.

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