British soccer star is a Texan who looks to Heaven after each goal he scores

Clint Dempsey is one of two Americans ever to score in two World Cups. He's the only American to score an English Premier League hat trick. And he has a quiet ritual of a brother's eternal love.

BY: Rob Kerby

 

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young tennis pro.“I was really upset and angry,” Dempsey recalls in his deep Texas drawl. “I had to go from playing club soccer to ‘recreational’ with a girl on my team. But the simple fact was, we couldn’t afford it.”

Not long afterward, he recalls for the Guardian’s Taylor, he was playing at a friend’s house when he was called home. Jennifer, 16, was in the hospital after collapsing with a brain aneurysm.

“I can remember, really clearly, arriving at the hospital and a little doubt forming in the back of mind: ‘What if this is it? What if my sister dies today?’”

“His voice is steady but this is the one moment he pauses,” writes Taylor. “‘You get there,’ recalls Dempsey, ‘and everyone is crying. They tell you and your heart falls from your chest. You hit the ground and you cry for hours. You cry until your head aches.’”

“I can talk about it now as I feel she is in a better place,” he says softly. “But it’s something you can never get over.”

“It’s weird because I remember something she told me. We would talk about death and she said, ‘If I ever pass away, do you want me to come back and let you know I’m OK?’

“I said: ‘No, that would scare me too bad!’

“We talked about it some more and she said, ‘Well, if I ever die I will help you get the ball in the net.’

“And that’s why I look up to the sky now when I score — to remember her.”

As a 12-year-old, he made that promise to her in a hand-written letter

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