There are no pictures of his family. “When you look at your pictures, it hurts,” he says. "If you’ve got ‘em up on the wall, you’d look at them all day, and you don’t want to hurt all day long.”
But the soccer games; that’s something different, that’s a distraction. His sister is Megan Rapinoe, left mid for the U.S. National Team, and everybody in prison – the deputies, the inmates, the doctor – knows it. Megan, known as “Pinoe,” has platinum blonde hair; Brian has a mohawk. Megan has two discreet tattoos - “nature ran her course” on her inner bicep, and an Arabic script that translates to “trust yourself” on her wrist. Brian’s tattoos creep up his neck, behind his ears, down his arms, chest and back. Hairstyle and body décor aside, they look identical. “Sometimes I look in the mirror and see him,” says Rapinoe. Their eyes, nose, smile, and charisma are the same.
They grew up together in a giant familial clan in rural California – six siblings and dozens of cousins traipsing through the countryside. Megan and her twin sister Rachael were the youngest. Brian was the next up in age, five years older.
“He’s funny and charming and lovable, the kind of guy everybody wanted to be around,” says Rapinoe. The twins followed him everywhere, running after the chickens, tramping through the woods, riding bikes across the fields. Brian’s the one who taught them how to fish for crawfish in the creek, luring the small crustaceans into a bucket via bacon and chunks of hot dog.
He’s also the one who got them into soccer. He played first, and their mother Denise coached his team. “She didn’t know squat about soccer, still doesn’t,” laughs Brian on a phone call from the Vista Detention Facility. “The only thing my mom knows about soccer is how to paint soccer balls on her fingernails.” But she went out there and tried anyway. And Megan and Rachael were the three-year-olds along the sideline always chasing after the ball. The family lived across the street from a church with a big soccer field, and everyday Brian would take them over there - the nine-year-old showing the four-year-olds how it was done.
While Rachael was shy, Megan was more like Brian: she liked to crack jokes, she didn’t mind being center stage. “I idolized him,” says Rapinoe. “I wanted to do whatever he did.” If he got a bowl cut, she got a bowl cut. If he walked around shirtless, Megan walked around shirtless. He loved to play; she loved to play. He wore jersey No. 7; she wore jersey No. 7. He played on the left wing; she played on the left wing.
“Megan and Rachael followed me in some ways,” says Brian. “But I’m really glad they didn’t in others.”