Born in Selma, Alabama on March 17, 1972, to parents Bill and Stephanie Hamm, Mariel Margaret Hamm, nicknamed Mia, was the fourth of six children.
Born with a club foot, she wore corrective shoes as a toddler.
Hamm spent her childhood on the United States Air Force bases with her parents and siblings.
Hamm played many years as a forward for the United States women’s national soccer team and was a founding member of the Washington Freedom.
Hamm held the record for international goals, more than any other player, male or female, in the history of soccer, until 2013 when fellow American Abby Wambach scored her 159th goal to break the record.
Hamm joined the United States women’s national soccer team at the age of 15, becoming the youngest ever to play on the national team.
In 1991, she was named to the roster for the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup in China under North Carolina coach, Anson Dorrance. At 19 years old, she was the youngest player on the team.
During the team’s first match of the tournament, 14,000 people were in attendance as Hamm scored the game-winning goal in the 62nd minute leading the U.S. to a 3–2 win over Sweden. The U.S. faced Brazil during their second group stage match on November 19.
The U.S. won 5–0 with goals scored by Carin Jennings, Michelle Akers, Hamm, and two by April Heinrichs.
The U.S. squad finished first in Group B after a third win against Japan on November 21 and advanced to a knockout stage of the tournament.
During the quarterfinal match against Chinese Taipei, the U.S. easily defeated their opponents 7–0. After defeating Germany 5–2 during the semifinal, the U.S. faced Norway in the final.
With Hamm as its star, the team won gold medals at the 1996 and 2004 Olympics and claimed the 1999 World Cup championship.
Hamm’s talent, good looks and an endorsement deal with Nike combined to make her a familiar face and a popular sports idol. (People magazine named her as one of its 50 Most Beautiful People in 1997.) Hamm sat out the 1991 college season… After her brother Garrett died in 1997, Hamm created the Mia Hamm Foundation to raise funds for bone marrow research… Additionally, another prominent University of North Carolina grad, was basketball legend Michael Jordan.
Hamm scored her 108th international competition goal in 1998, becoming the all-time world leader.
She also played for the Washington Freedom of the Women’s United Soccer Association, a league which folded in 2003. Hamm graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1994 with a political science degree.
Hamm helped lead Team USA to a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics and was also chosen by her fellow U.S. Olympians to carry the American flag at the Athens Closing Ceremonies.
After the Olympics, Hamm and her teammates went on a “farewell tour” of the United States, which ended on December 8, 2004 against Mexico at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
In the game, which the U.S. won 5–0, Hamm assisted on two of the goals.