A new round of celebrity-dating Mad Libs kicked off this fall, introducing a fresh crop of unexpected cross-platform pairings: Gigi Hadid and Bradley Cooper, Halsey and Avan Jogia, Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce (sorry). Also of note: Sophia Bush of One Tree Hill fame and U.S. Women’s National Team soccer star Ashlyn Harris, whose relationship surfaced in the tabloids in mid-October. Teen drama meets pro sports is a promising entry into the canon, largely speaking, but in this case, also a complicated one: Both Bush and Harris had recently filed for divorce — in Harris’s case, very recently — sparking rumors that this new relationship started as an affair.
Let’s back up: up until September, Harris was married to Ali Krieger, her teammate on both the U.S. National Team and the NY/NJ Gotham FC before Harris retired last year. Krieger and Harris share two children and were married for about four years before Harris filed for divorce at the end of September. Bush, meanwhile, had at least a couple months’ distance from her divorce — she and her husband, Grant Hughes, split in August just over a year after getting married. Less than a month after Harris’s filing hit the news cycle, however, the tabloids linked her with the newly single Bush.
Naturally, this sequence of events set off a flurry of speculation that Harris had cheated on Krieger with Bush, even though reports claimed that she and Bush had only been dating for a few weeks. Several tabloids piled on, unearthing photos of Bush and Harris laughing together during a panel about women’s sports partnerships that they both spoke at in Cannes this past June. The Daily Mail claimed Harris broke up with Krieger just after coming back from that trip, blindsiding her. The firestorm was further aggravated by a tweet from Krieger announcing that she was in her “Beyoncé lemonade era.”
Still, at the time, plenty of sources affiliated with the new couple denied that there was anything amiss, claiming that Harris and Bush had been friends for years and only went on their first date a few weeks prior. One specifically said that Harris and Krieger had been “living apart since the summer,” and that they’d started divorce proceedings “months ago.”
That did little to placate observers who were stuck on the possibility of infidelity, and it seems they have not stopped announcing their convictions online. In a lengthy notes-app Instagram statement posted Saturday, Harris forcefully denied the rumors. “We spent the entire summer working to tackle the separation and divorce steps outlined for us by our therapists, lawyers, and our shared agency,” she wrote. “I did not step out on my marriage. None of this happened on a whim.”
In the statement, she also asked everyone to back off, explaining that since her new relationship went public, she’s received comments “cheering on abuse,” “clamoring to encourage [her] to commit suicide,” and accusing her of being a bad mother. “I have tried to let the fire burn out and what I’ve experienced has devastated my mental health,” she wrote, explaining that she and Krieger merely sought to keep the news of their split under wraps until Krieger, who is retiring, finished her final season. According to Harris, the couple was forced to go public after someone leaked news of their breakup to the press, making it seem like a recent development when it had been in motion for a while. The result, Harris wrote, “has been brutal.” Maybe if soccer fans are looking for something to do online, they could shop for jerseys instead? Just a suggestion.