Hamm eventually became one of the most famous women athletes in the world, an iconic symbol of women's sports, and an inspiration and role model to a generation of sports-minded girls. She was named the women's FIFA World Player of the Year the first two times that award was given (in 2001 and 2002), and is listed as one of FIFA's 125 best living players (as chosen by Pelé). Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon called Hamm, "Perhaps the most important athlete of the last 15 years." .
She retired from the sport in 2004, when she played her last game in the 2004 Fan Celebration Tour to commemorate the US's Women's National team's victory in the 2004 Olympics. In 2007, her first year of eligibility, she was selected for induction into the National Soccer Hall of Fame by having 137 votes of the 141 ballots cast. Women's Professional Soccer, a professional soccer league that plans to launch in 2009, features Hamm's silhouette in its logo.
She is the author of Go For the Goal: A Champion's Guide to Winning in Soccer and Life (Harper Collins, 1999). She appeared in the HBO documentary Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team.
She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she helped the Tar Heels to four NCAA women's championships in five years (she sat out the season of 1991 to concentrate on the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup in China). North Carolina only lost one game in ninety five she played. She was an All-American and Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year for her last three years. She also won ACC Female Athlete of the Year in 1993 and 1994.
In 1993, she was a member of the U.S. women's national college team that played in the 1993 Summer Universiade and lost to China, obtaining the silver medal. She was the leading scorer with six goals. She graduated from college with the all-time records for her conference in goals with 103, assists with 72, and total points with 278.
In 1999, Nike named the largest building on their corporate campus after Hamm, and that same year she, and the rest of the women on the national team became world champions again by winning the FIFA Women's World Cup. The final match surpassed the Atlanta Olympic final as the most-attended women's sports event, with over 90,000 filling the Rose Bowl.
Also in 1999, Hamm began the Mia Hamm Foundation, dedicated to help with bone marrow research and to help women's sports programs progress. She was inspired to create her foundation by her adoptive brother and original athletic inspiration, Garrett, an Amerasian who died of a bone marrow disease shortly after the 1996 Olympics. She had a friendly game the next day and all the members of her team wore a black armband in memory of her brother.
In March 2004, Hamm and former U.S.A. teammate Michelle Akers were the only two women, and the only two Americans, named to the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living soccer players selected by Pelé and commissioned by FIFA for that organization's 100th anniversary.
In a friendly game against Australia on July 21, 2004, Hamm scored her 151st international goal; she has long held the record in that category for any player, male or female. This match also marked her 259th international appearance; only her teammate Kristine Lilly has played in more internationals.
She 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 finished 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. Hamm is one of three longtime national team members who announced their retirement from international play at the end of the tour; the others are longtime captain Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett (Fawcett did not play due to back surgery after the Olympics). Hamm retired with 158 international goals at age 32.
Hamm married then-Boston Red Sox Shortstop, current Los Angeles Dodger Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra on November 22, 2003 in Goleta, California in a private ceremony. A few hundred guests attended. On March 27, 2007 she gave birth to twin girls, Grace Isabella and Ava Caroline. Though born five weeks early, each girl weighed over 5 pounds at birth. Twins run in both Hamm and Garciaparra's families.
|1989||UNC||NCAA National Champion|
|1990||UNC||NCAA National Champion|
|1991||USA Women's National Team||FIFA World Cup Champion|
|1992||UNC||NCAA National Champion|
|1993||UNC||NCAA National Champion|
|1995||USA Women's National Team||FIFA World Cup Third Place|
|1996||USA Women's National Team||Olympic Gold|
|1999||USA Women's National Team||FIFA World Cup Champion|
|2000||USA Women's National Team||Olympic Silver|
|2003||Washington Freedom||WUSA Founder's Cup Champion|
|2003||USA Women's National Team||FIFA World Cup Third Place|
|2004||USA Women's National Team||Olympic Gold|