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Women’s soccer star Bella Bixby reveals dad died from suicide days before she played in semifinals 


Women’s soccer player Bella Bixby has revealed that her father died from suicide just days before she played in the National Women’s Soccer League semifinals.

Bella, 25, who plays goalkeeper for the Portland Thorns, said she ‘surprised herself’ with her strength after competing alongside her team against the Chicago Red Stars at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon, on Sunday, November 14. They lost the match 2-0.

During the game, an organization of local fans, called the Rose City Riveters, hung flowers and jerseys all around the venue in honor of Bella’s father, Harold ‘Dean’ Geist, who died by suicide at the age of 64 on November 9, just five days before her game. 

After it was over, the sports star said she ‘couldn’t hold it in anymore,’ so she took to Twitter to to share the tragic news with the world.

Soccer player Bella Bixby revealed that her father died from suicide days before she played in the Thorns’ National Women’s Soccer League semifinals. She is photographed at the match

Her and her team - the Portland Thorns - played against the Chicago Red Stars at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon, on Sunday. She is photographed at the match

Her and her team – the Portland Thorns – played against the Chicago Red Stars at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon, on Sunday. She is photographed at the match 

Harold 'Dean' Geist (who is believed to be pictured left) passed away at the age of 64 on November 9, just five days before her game

Harold ‘Dean’ Geist (who is believed to be pictured left) passed away at the age of 64 on November 9, just five days before her game

They lost the match 2-0, and after it was over, the sports star said she 'couldn't hold it in anymore,' so she took to Twitter to to share the tragic news. She is pictured with her dad

They lost the match 2-0, and after it was over, the sports star said she ‘couldn’t hold it in anymore,’ so she took to Twitter to to share the tragic news. She is pictured with her dad

Bella, 25, who plays goalkeeper, said she 'surprised herself' with her strength

Bella, 25, who plays goalkeeper, said she ‘surprised herself’ with her strength 

She also thanked the city of Portland for the 'unconditional support this year'

She also thanked the city of Portland for the ‘unconditional support this year’ 

During the game, an organization of local fans, called the Rose City Riveters, hung flowers and jerseys all around the venue in honor of Bella's dad

During the game, an organization of local fans, called the Rose City Riveters, hung flowers and jerseys all around the venue in honor of Bella’s dad

‘I don’t feel like I owe anyone an explanation, but I do feel like I’m ready to say it. My father died this week by suicide,’ she wrote. 

‘I’ve surprised myself by how strong I’ve been, but I couldn’t hold it anymore. My playing for this city meant so much to him.

‘I think regardless of the outcome tonight, I would’ve broke down – you can only hold it in for so long.

‘Thank you, rose city, for the unconditional support this year. It was a good one. And thank you to the @PDXRivetersSG for having my dad as an honorary capo tonight.’

Bella, who grew up in Milwaukie, Oregon, made her professional debut for the Thorns on June 27, 2020, after graduating from Oregon State University.

Many of the young athlete's teammates took to Twitter to show their support, including Christine Sinclair, who is the team's captain. She said Bella's dad 'would be so proud of her'

Many of the young athlete’s teammates took to Twitter to show their support, including Christine Sinclair, who is the team’s captain. She said Bella’s dad ‘would be so proud of her’

Bella, who grew up in Milwaukie, Oregon, made her professional debut for the Thorns on June 27, 2020. She is photographed as a child with her grandma

Bella, who grew up in Milwaukie, Oregon, made her professional debut for the Thorns on June 27, 2020. She is photographed as a child with her grandma

Bella, who grew up in Milwaukie, Oregon, made her professional debut for the Thorns on June 27, 2020.

In July 2021, she set the NWSL record for most shutout minutes to start an NWSL regular-season career, getting 269 consecutive shutout minutes across her first three games 

In July 2021, she set the NWSL record for most shutout minutes to start an NWSL regular-season career, getting 269 consecutive shutout minutes across her first three games. In December 2018, she married her longtime boyfriend, Elliot Bixby.

Her dad, who worked as a dentist, was described as someone who ‘would follow up and check on you if he knew you were going through something’ and someone who ‘loved his family and could endlessly boast about their achievements’ by a close family friend. Other people who knew him said he was a ‘firecracker’ and a ‘great mentor.’

Many of the young athlete’s teammates took to Twitter to show their support, including Christine Sinclair, who is the team’s captain. 

‘[Love] you Bella. Your father would be so proud of you,’ she wrote. ‘Not the result we wanted, but it is an honor to be on this team. Thank you Rose City for all the love and support this year.’

‘Love you, Bella. Love our team. Love this city,’ Becky Sauerbrunn, who plays defense for the Portland Thorns, added.

Angela Salem, who plays midfielder, wrote: ‘Proud to be your teammate! Proud of you! Love you @bellageist.’ 

‘We love you, Bella. I can’t believe the strength you’ve shown in the past few days, you are truly something special,’ Sophia Smith, who plays forward, said.

The Portland Thorns Twitter account also reposted Bella’s message and added, ‘We love you, Bella.’

For confidential support call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255. 



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