Quick, when you think of Ryan Lochte, what’s your first thought?
Bro? Liar? Clown? Fraud? Chances are, “Olympic medalist” doesn’t rank particularly high on that list, and Lochte understands why. In a revealing new profile on ESPN, Lochte came clean on how close his falsified story of a Rio robbery came to breaking him.
Did you know that Lochte has more Olympic medals than Mark Spitz, second overall on the United States’ list only to a guy named Phelps? It’s true; with 12 medals, six gold, Lochte is one of the most accomplished Olympians in American history. But now and forevermore, his name will be attached to a night on the town gone wrong, a night when he and fellow swimmers alleged that they were victims of a crime and instead made fools of themselves in front of the entire planet.
Lochte and his fellow swimmers, you may recall, vandalized a gas station after a night on the town. Lochte then exaggerated the story, first to his mother and then to the global media, creating a tale of a robbery gone wrong. He skipped the country, leaving his teammates to take the heat. In one particularly revealing passage from the article, Ryan went deep:
“After Rio, I was probably the most hated person in the world,” Lochte mumbles. “There were a couple of points where I was crying, thinking, ‘If I go to bed and never wake up, fine.'” Asked if that means he considered suicide, Lochte nods slowly. “I was about to hang up my entire life.”
But Lochte has found purpose in his life, first with fiancée Kayla Rae Reid and then with their son, due in June. “Look, I was done with swimming back in 2013,” he said. “I was drained, wiped out. Now I’ve found a new purpose with my son. This fire has been ignited, and it’s bigger than ever, and I’m just so excited because I know what’s going to happen in Tokyo. Everyone is going to have to watch out!”
The full article is worth a read. Clearly, the world hasn’t seen the last of Ryan Lochte swimming for gold medals.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.