Book: May-Treanor feared mom before she sobered up
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Misty May-Treanor said in a soon-to-be-published autobiography that she has struggled with alcoholism all her life as the child of a mother who became violent when drunk and a father who didn’t sober up until he was imprisoned for driving under the influence.
May-Treanor also revealed in “Misty, Digging Deep in Volleyball and Life” that she was sexually assaulted in college.
The book is due out in June, and a copy of the uncorrected proof was obtained by The Associated Press from the publisher.
In it, May-Treanor describes a sexual assault that occurred in her off-campus housing at Long Beach State. Awakening in the night to find someone hovering over her and touching her, she scared him off by kicking him in the groin – advice her mother had given her.
She pressed charges and testified at the trial; the book does not identify the perpetrator or say how the case was resolved.
May-Treanor did not immediately return a call from the AP seeking comment. But she spoke generally about the book to reporters before Thursday night’s Florida Marlins game in Miami, where she threw out the first pitch to promote the opening of the domestic beach volleyball season.
“When people read this book, they only see me as the athlete and they’ll know I have scars, that I’ve had things in the past that I’m not proud of that I’ve had to change, and that I now can express it,” she said. “The book was kind of therapeutic, because I was talking about things that I haven’t.”
May-Treanor, who is married to former Marlins catcher Matt Treanor, said there were things in the book her husband didn’t even know.
“I didn’t feel comfortable coming out and saying it, or I’m ashamed, but now it’s OK,” she said. “If it can help somebody else, if somebody else can read that book, a young girl can say ‘Oh my gosh, she went through that same thing? No way!’ Then I feel that I’m helping.”
The book also traces her life in beach volleyball, from being baby-sat by Karch Kiraly while her father – 1968 Olympian Butch May – barnstormed with Wilt Chamberlain or played on the California beaches against Bill Walton. And it takes her through three Olympics, including her emotional first gold medal in 2004 after her mother died of cancer.
“Truthfully, if I could give back my Olympic gold medals for the chance to spend a day with my Mom, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” she says in the uncorrected proof of the book that was written with sports writer Jill Lieber Steeg. “Her death taught me a valuable lesson: Life is short and precious. You’re not guaranteed tomorrow. Unfortunately, she had to die for me to learn that.”
But the friendship that had grown so close by the time of her mother’s death – Misty continued to write Barbara May letters, even after she died – had been tumultuous in early on. The book details a childhood – from age 4 to 15 – in which her parents were often drunk, forcing her to seek refuge with her grandparents.
While her father was easygoing when drunk, her mother punched holes in walls, smashed windshields, broke lamps and dishes and threw Butch May’s volleyball trophies at him. One time Misty was too wrapped up listening to The New Kids on the Block to shower and clean her room, and compounded the problem by talking back to her mother.
“She had a hit for every syllable: Don’t. You. Ever. Talk. To. Me. Like. That. Ever. Again,” May-Treanor wrote. “That was the last time I ever talked back to Mom.”
May-Treanor said she was often left by herself to play video games in bars while her parents drank. “Except for those times when they’d offer me sips of their beer; then I’d join in the celebrations,” she wrote.
Her own experience with alcohol was also troubled. She got sick her first time she experimented with drinking, in college, and when she drank to socialize on the volleyball tour she would find herself unable to drive home. After her wedding, she wrote, she wound up “facedown, in my wedding gown, sprawled across a hotel room bed.”
But she also recognizes the effect drinking had on her.
“Trying to cope with their drinking problems shaped my personality,” she said. “It’s the reason I’m so quiet. It’s the reason I don’t express my feelings well. It’s the reason I can’t talk about what’s really going on inside me.”
In the book, she also repeated her desire to have children but showed no similar urge to compete in London in 2012.
“Over the years, I’ve made many sacrifices to win two Olympic gold medals and put together winning streaks that will never be broken,” she wrote. “And now I want to experience life. I want to kick back and enjoy. I want to breathe. I want to experience something as simple as summer.
“My biggest goal for the future is motherhood,” she said. “I’ll tell you right now, becoming a mother would rank as my greatest accomplishment of all.”
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