1 minute read

Florence Griffith Joyner

A Life Ended Too Soon

Griffith Joyner delighted crowds by dressing like no other runner before her or after. Her running suits typically left one leg bare and were colorful and brightlypatterned. She also wore her nails six inches long and had them elaborately painted. When she retired from competitive running in 1989, she took a job designing uniforms for the National Basketball Association's Indiana Pacers. Griffith Joyner's post-Olympic activities also included pursuing acting and writing careers, designing fingernail fashions, recording a series of fitness videos, and starting a family—she gave birth to her daughter, Mary, soon after retiring from racing. In 1993, she became co-chair of the President's Council on Physical Fitness.

In 1996, Griffith Joyner had a seizure while on an airplane. She was hospitalized when the plane landed, and released after a day under medical observation. She died during the night of September 20, 1998. Her husband awoke beside her the next day and discovered she was not breathing. He immediately called an ambulance, but by then it was too late.

After learning of her death, President Clinton eulogized Griffith Joyner for her athletic achievements and personal style. He praised her for never forgetting her origins in a poor Los Angeles neighborhood, and for reaching out to help children in need even after she became famous.

Not just her astonishing accomplishments on the track made Griffith Joyner beloved around the world. Her unique style and charisma inspired a generation of girls. Besides her husband, Griffith Joyner is survived by their daughter, Mary, who was age seven when Griffith Joyner died.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsTrack and FieldFlorence Griffith Joyner Biography - Born To Run, Olympic Dreams, World's Fastest Woman, Chronology, A Life Ended Too Soon