- USWNT star Carli Lloyd saw a lot of similarities between herself and late NBA icon Kobe Bryant.
- Both highly esteemed in their respective sports and intensely hardworking by nature, Lloyd and Bryant had a shared understanding of what it means to “dedicate your entire life” to succeed at the highest level of athletics.
- In an interview with Business Insider three days after Bryant’s death, Lloyd said seeing Bryant thrive in retirement “gave me a sense of feeling of what my post-soccer career might look like.”
- “I get what he had to do [during his career],” Lloyd said. “To see him so happy with his family post-playing made it even harder to see the accident happen.”
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At 37 years old, Carli Lloyd has reached the twilight of her illustrious soccer career.
The prolific striker made her US Women’s National Team (USWNT) debut in 2005 – when she was just 23 years old – and she’s been a focal point for the world’s best team ever since. Through four World Cups and three Olympic games, Lloyd has wracked up 122 goals for the USWNT, placing her fourth on the squad’s list of all-time leading scorers.
She’ll be the first to tell you that that level of success never came easy, and that soccer “has consumed my life for the past 15 years.” Its only natural, then, that she’d feel some trepidation about her storied career coming to a close.
That’s where Kobe Bryant came in.
Like so many others, Lloyd looked to the NBA icon’s example. She and the longtime Los Angeles Laker shared an unrelenting drive, intense work ethic, and an impressive – bordering on obsessive – desire to be the greatest of all time in their respective sports. Like Lloyd, Bryant devoted his entire life to competing at the highest level. And, like Lloyd, nobody really knew what his life would look like once he moved on from the sport that made his life the stuff of legend.
“He was coming up and he wanted to be the greatest of all time,” Lloyd told Business Insider. “He was outward about that and I’ve said the same. My goal was to become the greatest player in the world and some people rolled their eyes. Some people laughed. That’s how I’m wired. I’ve wanted to become the greatest of all time and you literally have to sacrifice everything in your life.”
For that reason, Lloyd said it was comforting to see Bryant, to whom she related in so many ways, thrive in his retired life.
“He did so much for the sport, but watching him in these last couple of years post-retirement just gave me a sense of feeling of what my post-soccer career might look like,” Lloyd said. “That’s his family and coaching his daughter, Gigi. It gave you a different perspective into his career post-basketball and he just looked so happy.”
“I get what he had to do [during his career] and to see him so happy with his family post-playing made it even harder to see the accident happen,” Lloyd added.
On January 26, Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Soon after, the biggest names in sports began to publicly express their disbelief and remorse at the untimely and tragic death of “The Black Mamba.”
Lloyd was no exception. Three days after his passing, she told Insider she still hasn’t truly wrapped her head around the fact that he’s gone.
“I’ll still go on Twitter and I literally can’t believe it,” Lloyd said. “He was obviously at the 2008 Olympics and I believe it was the 2015 World Cup watching. He came and supported our team a number of different times. His daughter was a soccer fan. It’s tragic. It’s honestly heartbreaking.”
The two-time FIFA Player of the Year took some comfort in the fact that the whole world seemingly banded together to mourn Bryant and the legacy he left behind.
“The loss of him and Gigi and all the other lives was completely and utterly heartbreaking and a huge tragedy,” she said. “But to see the amount of support he’s had and people of all walks of life impacted by him is truly inspiring – how many people loved him and how many people respected him.”
Lloyd has long resisted putting an end date on her career. And while she still hasn’t announced anything officially, she’s ready to admit that she’s considering what her life will look like beyond the pitch.
“I’m going to sort of reassess my life after this year and figure out what I’m going to continue to do – whether that’s continuing to play or something different,” Lloyd said. “We will have to see exactly what plays out.”
In the meantime, Lloyd has quite a year ahead of her. She and her teammates are currently competing to clinch a spot at the 2020 Tokyo games at the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. They will move on to the She Believes Cup next month before embarking on a journey to win gold – Lloyd’s third – in Japan this summer.
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