LA hometown hero, Rafer Johnson, blazed trails in the 1960 Olympic decathlon and carried the flame in the LA84 Olympics. We honor the life and legacy of this athlete, activist, actor and savior. Rafer’s legacy still shines bright to this day amongst our beloved LA.
February 2, 2021
San Diego State University alum, Ahkeel Whitehead, competed in the 2016 Paralympic Games, accomplishing one of his life long goals! Ahkeel was a finalist within the Men's Long Jump (T37)*. Though Ahkeel faces challenges, those challenges aren’t going to keep him off the field.
Now, he’s back to his roots as the San Diego State University Adapted Athletics (SDSU AA) Program Director, the first program of its kind in California. Akheel is a change maker as he sets out to provide resources, opportunities and access to people with disabilities to further their career and passion in sports.
February 3, 2021
Worthy of his nickname, The Greatest, Muhammad Ali burst onto the world stage as the original GOAT at the 1960 Olympics to win Gold at 18. Aside from Ali’s excellence in the ring, he left his mark on the world by sharing his inspirational stories and messages. Hear how even decades later he’s still inspiring local athletes like Deandre Evans.
February 4, 2021
Celebrating Excellence. With a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals, Biles is the most decorated American gymnast and the 3rd top-ranked gymnast in the world. Biles is well known for performing difficult skills at a high level of execution. Her 2018 routine on vault and her 2019 routine on floor are the two most difficult routines ever performed in women's Olympic artistic gymnastics history. Biles is a testament to hard work, dedication, resilience and truly shining! We cannot wait to see what she does next.
February 5, 2021
This LA native is on track to break records - literally. Breanna Clark was the first female, US athlete with an intellectual disability to bring home gold in the Women's 400 meter (T20)* at the 2016 Paralympic Games. Breanna comes from a family of winners! Her mother, Rosalyn Bryant, received a silver medal in the 1976 Olympics… Guess it RUNS in the family.
February 6, 2021
Riverside native and USC grad, Cheryl Miller, is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Now here’s someone that puts the GOLD in Golden State. This basketball phenomenon led her undefeated team to win gold (6-0) in the LA84 Games and in the USA Women’s Olympic record book, is first for points averaged (16.5 points) during that game.
February 7, 2021
Dartanyon was born legally blind, lost his mother at 8, and with a difficult childhood, turned to wrestling as a conduit for change. He caught the attention of Team USA judo coach, Eddie Liddie, and within two years of Judo training, Dartanyon won his first bronze medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games. Now a two-time Paralympic Judoka bronze medalist, Dartanyon is an amazing example of gracefully dealing with adversity and a compassionate, powerful, insightful and honorable example of resilience.
February 8, 2021
The LA84 Foundation President led her Olympic row crew to a bronze in 1976. Eight years later in 1984, Anita then went on to become the first African American on the Olympic Organizing Committee - Not to mention that this was the first time a woman from the U.S. ever served on the committee, Where some people see challenges and uphill climbs, Anita sees possibility and opportunity to be the first so she's not the last. As recently as 2017, she was elected for a second term as the Vice President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
February 9, 2021
Woman, Veteran, Paralympian and so much more. Born in Newark, Kari Miller grew up in Washington D.C., joined the U.S. Army in high school and went to college at the University of Central Oklahoma. As a 22 year old Army sergeant preparing for a promotion to officer, Kari was involved in a very serious car accident and lost mobility in both of her legs. After rehabilitation, she immediately felt a calling to Paralympic sport and found her passion with sitting volleyball. Miller went on to join the U.S. Paralympics Women’s Sitting Volleyball National Team in 2006 and two years later, helped the team earn a silver medal in the Beijing Games.
February 10, 2021
Serena Williams will always be known as the tennis player who continues to transform women's tennis with her commanding style on the courts and unbreakable tenacity to the game. Serena is youngest of five daughters, and alongside her sister Venus, started playing tennis at five years old at the public courts in Compton. It was well worth it because Serena's first major title came at 17 years old, winning the U.S. Open. Serena Williams has 23 grand slams, four Olympic gold medals, and cleared one of those titles while pregnant at the Australian Open. Learn how Serena's story and dedication to the game paved local tennis player, Halicia Loren's, path for tennis success.
February 11, 2021
You don’t need sight when you have a vision. That’s the motto that blind U.S. Paralympian, Lex Gillette lives by. At 8 years old, Lex Gillette started to lose his eyesight. By age 19, he was a silver medalist Paralympic athlete and by 31, this long jumper had won silver in four consecutive Paralympic Games. Lex knew that his calling was standing up on that medal podium and he was determined to use his laser sharp focus to get him there. When speaking about losing his eyesight, Lex says, “It was the biggest blessing.” Additionally, Lex is the only completely blind athlete in the world to ever soar over the 22-foot barrier in the long jump. Lex currently trains at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Center in California.
February 12, 2021
LA was heating up but U.S. Olympic Hall of Famer and record-breaker Carl Lewis, was on fire in the 1984 LA Summer Olympics bringing home four gold medals. He was the first African American athlete, since Jesse Owens, to win four gold medals. During his Olympic career, he won a total of nine Olympic gold medals and one Olympic silver medal. He's just one of two athletes in history to have 9 gold Olympic medals; and one of two athletes to win the same Olympic event four times consecutively.
February 13, 2021
Four-time Olympian and winner of five Olympic medals, otherwise known as, Evelyn Ashford. Evelyn is tiny but mighty, She was the first to run the 100-yard dash in less than 11 seconds and she did it right here in Los Angeles at the 1984 Summer Olympics. At the age of 35, she competed and won her 4th gold medal becoming the oldest American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in track and field. From the years 1979 to 1985, Evelyn dominated women's Track & Field, particularly the 100 meter and 200 meter races. Evelyn competed in track & field until 1992 and retired to focus on her family life and two children.
February 14, 2021
Wilma Rudolph was one of the nation's first track superstars. Rudolph had Olympic-sized dreams. As a child, Wilma was told that she may never walk again, but by 16, she was competing in the Olympics. Discovering that she was a natural athlete, Rudolph quickly turned to sports, playing basketball in high school, and after meeting with a college coach, eventually found her love for track and field. At the 1960 Olympics, Wilma won gold in the 100M, 200M, and 4x100M sprints, making her the first American woman to win 3 Olympic gold medals at a single Olympic Games. Wilma was only 22 years old when she retired from competitive sports in 1962. She continued to accomplish great things in her lifetime - coaching track and field at DePaul University in Indiana, raising 4 children, and serving as a goodwill ambassador until she passed away in 1994.
February 15, 2021
Chandra Cheeseborough’s life has been a collection of very fast, very significant footsteps. As a very young girl, she outran “every boy in the neighborhood”. As a teenager, her feet carried her into the track and field spotlight, where she set American records, won Olympic gold medals and international acclaim. This U.S. sprinter was a world champion at the very young age of 16. Chandra Cheeseborough hit her stride in the 1984 LA Summer Games, where she made Olympic history winning gold medals in two relays - held less than an hour apart. Cheeseborough also served as an assistant coach on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team and head coach of the 2009 team at the World Championships. She was inducted into the National Track and Field Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 and is one of the youngest members ever inducted into the Tennessee State University Sports Hall of Fame. Chandra is now coaching women’s track and field at Tennessee State University.
February 16, 2021
Claressa Shields was born on March 17, 1995 in Flint, Michigan. When Claressa was a high school junior, she was introduced to boxing by her father, Bo, who had boxed in the underground leagues. Claressa is now a legendary U.S. professional boxer and mixed martial artist. At 25, Claressa has already won gold medals in the women's middleweight division at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, making her the first ever U.S. boxer—female or male—to win consecutive Olympic medals. She is also one of the only three women who has won a boxing gold medal. Claressa is boxing’s gold standard with her unwavering perseverance, vigor and dedication.
February 17, 2021
Born in Jamaica, Usain Bolt's natural speed was noticed during his formative years in school. Bolt began to focus on sprinting with the help of Pablo McNeil, a former Olympic sprint athlete. Bolt took his first shot at success on the world stage at the 2002 World Junior Championships in Kingston, Jamaica, where he won the 200-meter dash, making him the youngest world-junior gold medalist ever. This is where he earned his famous nickname and set the stage to break records and take home Olympic gold. Bolt is an 11-time World Champion, holds the record in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m in both the Olympics and World Championships and won gold in the 100m and 200m in three consecutive Olympics (Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016), a feat no other sprinter in history has ever achieved. It’s no wonder that this eight-time Olympic gold medalist inspires Olympic hopeful and LA resident, Chris Atangana, as he trains to run in the 2021 Tokyo Games.
February 18, 2021
While Olympic Hall of Famers, Tommie Smith and John Carlos first met on the track at San Jose State University during college, they already shared a passion and vision for their track and field careers. Tommie Smith gained notoriety by setting multiple records at his high school and as a student athlete at SJSU where he set 2 world records for the 220-yard dash and the 200-meter races. John Carlos was always considered a gifted athlete but truly excelled in track and field in his formative years before receiving a scholarship to SJSU to train under future National Track & Field Hall of Fame coach. At the 1968 Olympics, Tommie Smith won gold in the 200 meters, setting a world record for an outstanding 11 years, and John Carlos won bronze in the 200 meters.
February 19, 2021
Born and bred in Inglewood, Jamal Hill was first introduced to swimming at his local YMCA's "mommy and me" swimming classes. By age seven, he was swimming competitively and by age 10, he was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), a hereditary neurological condition that can result in progressive loss of muscle tissue and touch sensation. Jamal continued to swim through high school and college, believing that only “you have the power to change you”. At just 25, he is ranked number one in the US Paralympic 100 Free and number 22 in the world. Aside from having his sights set on gold at his first Paralympic Games this summer in Tokyo, he's also spearheading Swim Up Hill, an organization focused on reducing drowning rates with a goal of teaching 1 million people how to swim through trainings and a digital swim school platform.
February 20, 2021
Brian Bell is a Paralympic gold medalist. Brian lost his right leg at the very young age of 10 due to a train accident. However, he did not let this accident determine his future. Through rehabilitation, he returned to playing football and even joined his middle school team with a prosthetic leg. Soon after, his mother introduced him to a U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Site in Birmingham, Alabama. It was there that Brian was introduced to adaptive sports but found his love for wheelchair basketball. In 2016, he played and won gold at his first Paralympic Games.
*Para sport classifications