Competitive swimmer Ryan Lochte told ESPN the Magazine he contemplated committing suicide following the public backlash that occurred after the highly-publicized gas station incident at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games.
“After Rio, I was probably the most hated person in the world,” admitted the 32-year-old. “There were a couple of points where I was crying, thinking, ‘If I go to bed and never wake up, fine.’ I was about to hang up my entire life.”
In August 2016, the 12-time medalist falsely claimed that he and Team USA swimmers Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger, and James Feigen were robbed at gunpoint at a gas station in Brazil.
Lochte, who admitted to being “hammered” while celebrating their win, later said he didn’t remember all the details of the night and ultimately, he and his teammates received penalties for lying. Lochte lost his endorsements and was suspended from swimming for 10 months.
“There were times when I’ve hit the lowest low,” he told Fox News in February. “There were certain times when I didn’t want to wake up. I didn’t care much for living…”
He credited his fiancée, Playboy model Kayla Rae Reid, for supporting him through the scandal.
“She was right there behind me and she was the one that… brought light into me… She was the one who gave me life, gave me hope,” he said.
After their engagement in October 2016, the couple announced in December they were expecting a baby. Lochte said his child is now giving him the motivation to dive into the sport again this year.
“My son is going to be there during the Olympics,” he explained. “He’s going to watch his dad do something that he’s really passionate about and loves. I think that’s what really got me to get that drive back again, that focus back in the water. I want to do it for him. I want to show him that if you set your mind on things, your dreams can come true. And to never give up on it. I’m doing it for this guy.”