Portland Thorns Goalkeeper Bella Bixby Reveals Her Father Died by Suicide Before NWSL Semifinals

The athlete shared the sad news on Twitter Sunday following the Thorns' National Women's Soccer League semifinal loss to the Chicago Red Stars

Bella Bixby
Bella Bixby. Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer/getty

Professional soccer player Bella Bixby's father has died, she shared on social media this week following the National Women's Soccer League semifinal.

Bixby, who plays goalkeeper for the Portland Thorns, shared on Twitter Sunday that her dad died by suicide.

"I don't feel like I owe anyone an explanation, but I do feel like I'm ready to say it. My father died this week by suicide," the 25-year-old shared. "And I've surprised myself by how strong I've been, but I couldn't hold it anymore. My playing for this city meant so much to him."

The Portland Thorns faced the Chicago Red Stars at home at Providence Park on Sunday night, though they lost the game 2-0. The Rose City Riveters, an organization of local fans, set up a tribute to Bixby's dad during the game with a jersey and flowers hung in the stands.

"I think regardless of the outcome tonight, I would've broke down — you can only hold it in for so long. Thank you, rose city, for the unconditional support this year. It was a good one," she continued. "And thank you to the @PDXRivetersSG for having my dad as an honorary capo tonight."

"We love you, Bella," the Thorns' Twitter account wrote in a quote tweet.

The Red Stars shared their support for Bixby with a tweet Sunday that read, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your loved ones, Bella."

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Bixby was among the players named to the U.S. Women's National Team roster last week for upcoming friendly matches in Australia. It Bixby's first USWN call-up, though she played with the Under-23 USWNT in 2017 and 2018.

Several of Bixby's teammates shared their support on social media for the goalie, including Thorns captain Christine Sinclair.

"❤️you Bella. Your father would be so proud of you," Sinclair, 38, wrote. "Not the result we wanted, but it is an honor to be on this team. Thank you Rose City for all the love and support this year."

Defender Becky Sauerbrunn wrote, "Love you, Bella. Love our team. Love this city."

"BELLA my baby Tiger, I'm so so proud of you. The way you handled last week is incredible. You are such a strong person," Nadine Angerer, the Thorns' Director of Goalkeeping, wrote. "I love you, we all love you!"

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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