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Megan Rapinoe Gave a Shoutout to Her Brother. Here's His Story

Brian Rapinoe spent much of his adult life behind bars, but is turning things around
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2019 1:01 AM CDT
United States' Megan Rapinoe blows a kiss to the public after the U.S won the Women's World Cup final soccer match between US and The Netherlands at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France,...   (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

(Newser) – After the US women's soccer team won its record fourth World Cup on Sunday, Megan Rapinoe gave her brother Brian a birthday shoutout at the end of her post-match interview, per USA Today. ESPN offers the back story on the siblings' "complicated relationship," explaining that while Megan adored Brian growing up—five years her elder, he was the one who introduced her and her twin sister to soccer—he started smoking pot at age 12, then moved on to other drugs. He was arrested and sent to juvenile detention at age 15, and as his path and his sister's diverged, she was angry at him for a long time, Brian recalls. For years, his problems with drugs and the law increased; in prison, he aligned himself with a white gang and got inked with Nazi tattoos, and continued getting hit with more charges while already imprisoned. At California's only super-max-security prison, he made a friend who changed his life.

That friend was Sanyika Shakur, a black nationalist and the author of Monster: Autobiography of an LA Gang Member. "He taught me what it means to be racist, and he taught me what it means not to be racist," Brian says. In 2010, he had his white supremacist tattoos lasered off or altered, but his drug problems continued, and he was arrested and sent back to prison soon after his release. That's where he was when Megan played in her first World Cup, and he made sure the prisoners were able to watch. "Not being there—it hurt," he says. But four years later, when she played in her next World Cup, he was once again behind bars. Finally, while in prison again in 2017, he decided to attend the prison's rehab program; he's now been clean for 18 months and is participating in a community re-entry program. See ESPN's full piece for more on the relationship between Megan and Brian, who now text daily. (Read more Megan Rapinoe stories.)

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