'We were on welfare': Former USMNT star Charlie Davies details harrowing childhood memories and how they shaped him as a footballer

Charlie DaviesGetty

The 37-year-old enjoyed something of a nomadic professional career, playing for the likes of Hammarby and Sochaux before settling in Major League Soccer. During his time in the United States, Davies played for the likes of New England Revolution, DC United, and Philadelphia Union.

He also won 17 caps for the USMNT, scoring four goals, but his career was pockmarked by moments of tragedy.

In 2009, he was involved in a car crash that left him with a lacerated bladder, bleeding on the brain, and various other injuries; the female passenger with Davies died in the accident.

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In 2016, Davies was diagnosed with cancer, and he has now revealed that he had to fight his way out of poverty to find his way to football, which reignited his relationship with his father.

On the latest episode of Kicking It on CBS Sports GOLAZO, Davies revealed just how bad things were when he was growing up, as his dad battled drug addiction, and his mother was institutionalized due to her mental health.

He said: "I was on welfare. Sometimes I didn't know where my next meal was coming from and sometimes I had to go out and go to the grocery store with food stamps. One of the most humiliating moments as a kid is going to a grocery store with my younger brother, who is two years younger than me, so I'm acting like I'm his father and his brother at the same time while my mother was in a psychiatric hospital because she was dealing with a lot of mental illness, and tried to commit suicide a few times."

"My father would sometimes go on his drug binges, and so I'm going to shop for my family. I'm going to the grocery store, I'm checking out, you have 60 bucks to buy everything you can. I can't cook, my brother can't cook, so sometimes it's cereal, it's fruit, it's vegetables, whatever you can eat. I'm going to the checkout line, and then the checkout person goes 'aisle 5, processing food stamps, I don't know what I'm doing' and so now everyone in the store, I felt like, looks at you, and then I have to walk two miles from the grocery store to my apartment."

"I was as embarrassed as you can possibly be, I was humiliated, but all I could do was think about eating. There's no other option."

Asked about how football changed his relationship with his dad, Davies added: "Yeah because I wanted the love. My father never missed a game. With all the demons he had... we still have a really good relationship, so second grade was the first time my mother had a mental breakdown and she was put in a mental hospital. In third grade, she tried to commit suicide, she took 96 pills at once. I was tasked with, in the back seat, my dad said 'keep her up, because if she falls asleep she's not going to make it'.... I'm in third grade, trying to keep my mom up. I knew that the only way I was going to have at least one parent with me all the time was my dad and having that connection with soccer."

"I enjoyed it because I felt connected to him but also I saw what it was doing for me, as I played games and I was getting better. I wanted to work harder because I felt like I was getting closer and it wasn't until I was 14 or 15 that I saw myself becoming a professional if I continued."

Davies has overcome adversity beyond comprehension, and now founds himself regularly covering soccer with both CBS and MLS as an analyst.