He has not commented in public, so the reason for his actions during the deadly demonstration-turned insurrection on the day Congress met to certify Joe Biden’s election victory is unclear. What is certain is that, like many athletes before him, he found it hard to adjust to ordinary life after an extraordinary sporting career.
His marriage collapsed, he was unable to hold down a series of sales jobs and he struggled to afford a place to live while paying child support for his three kids. He felt bitter and angry, losing motivation and gaining weight as he ate and drank to excess. He said his money problems prompted him to live in his Ford Fusion after his divorce in 2014. He would squeeze his 6ft 6in frame into the car and try to grab some sleep in Walmart parking lots.
“I found the real-world pressure much more intimidating and much more difficult to deal with because I went from swimming to having three kids and a wife within a year and so the consequences of not succeeding were very, very real and if I didn’t make a sale or if my manager was ticked off with me, or If I got fired – oh shoot, you have no health insurance. It’s very concrete,” he told an Olympic Channel podcast.Read The Guardian