Voted the ‘Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century,’ track-and-field legend Jackie Joyner-Kersee won three gold, one silver and two bronze Olympic medals in the ’80s and ’90s.
Throughout her life, her victories were not met without obstacles. At age 11, Joyner-Kersee witnessed a murder and lost her grandmother in the same day in her hometown of East St. Louis, Ill. While attending UCLA, she had to make a horrific decision: Joyner had to authorize doctors to remove her mother, who was brain dead, from life support.
Through it all, she persevered and inspired the world through her triumphs. On July 28, she was honored in her hometown during the National Urban League’s Women of Power luncheon.
“Being from East St. Louis, Ill., and being grateful to be in the midst of all of you, it does my heart very good because [of] the work that I continue to do in the city of East St. Louis,” said Joyner Kersee. “It’s a city that’s so small, that it’s forgotten in most people’s eyes [from] the standpoint of great people there that really have a passion to be there to make difference in the lives of young people that they touch on a daily basis.”
In 1998, Joyner-Kersee established the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Community Foundation which works to improve the quality of life for youth, adults and families. “My work is not done. My work that I have done, I have not done it alone. It is because of the support of so many people and my husband. In order to have a great woman, a great man has to stand behind her. [My husband] pushed me,” affirmed Joyner-Kersee. – adam jones