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Carli Lloyd played her final game for the US Women's National Team Tuesday night.
The soccer icon said she took solace in watching late NBA legend Kobe Bryant thrive in retirement.
"[It] gave me a sense of what my post-soccer career might look like," Lloyd told Insider.
At 39 years old, Carli Lloyd has reached the twilight of her illustrious soccer career.
The prolific striker made her US Women's National Team debut in 2005 - when she was just 23 years old - and she's been a focal point for the world's best team ever since. Through four World Cups and three Olympic games, Lloyd has racked up 134 goals for the USWNT, placing her third on the squad's list of all-time leading scorers.
She'll be the first to tell you that that level of success never came easy and that soccer "has consumed my life." It's only natural, then, that she'd feel some trepidation about her storied career coming to a close.
That's where Kobe Bryant came in.
Like so many others, Lloyd looked to the NBA icon's example. She and the longtime Los Angeles Laker shared an unrelenting drive, intense work ethic, and an impressive - bordering on obsessive - desire to be the greatest of all time in their respective sports.
Like Lloyd, Bryant devoted his entire life to competing at the highest level. And, like Lloyd, nobody knew what his life would look like once he moved on from the sport that made his life the stuff of legend.
"He was coming up, and he wanted to be the greatest of all time," Lloyd told Insider. "He was outward about that, and I've said the same. My goal was to become the greatest player in the world, and some people rolled their eyes. Some people laughed. That's how I'm wired. I've wanted to become the greatest of all time, and you literally have to sacrifice everything in your life."
"I get what he had to do [during his career], and to see him so happy with his family post-playing made it even harder to see the accident happen," she added.
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gigi, died in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Nearly two years later, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar continues to inspire countless people worldwide, including a fellow sports icon in Lloyd.
The two-time FIFA Player of the Year had long resisted putting an end date on her career. But in August of this year, after competing at the Tokyo Olympics and earning the third medal of her career, she announced her retirement after 16 years of dominance on the world's stage.
Walking away will be hard - she warned reporters during Monday's media availability that "emotions are gonna flow" at her final game with the USWNT - but it would've been that much harder without the blueprint Bryant left behind.
"He did so much for the sport, but watching him in these last couple of years post-retirement just gave me a sense of feeling of what my post-soccer career might look like," Lloyd said. "That's his family and coaching his daughter, Gigi. It gave you a different perspective into his career post-basketball, and he just looked so happy."
Lloyd is hoping to take a similar approach. On the eve of her final USWNT game she said she was hoping to "eventually start a family" with her husband, Brian, and focus her energy on becoming "the best mom and ... best wife that I possibly can."
"I gave it all I had. I think that's what's really special walking away from this, is knowing that I did give it all I have," Lloyd said Monday. "This next phase of mine is gonna be no different. I'm gonna find something that I'm passionate about and do it to the best of my ability."
"It's just gonna be a little different," she added. "I'm not gonna be feeling the pressure of having to perform in World Cups and Olympics, but I got to do that. And now I'll just shift gears into something different."
Read the original article on Insider