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Valerie Brisco-Hooks

Pregnancy Impeeds Performance

Brisco-Hooks continued to excel in her track career at the collegiate level while she attended California State-Northridge. In 1979 she won 200-meter final in the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) championships. In that same year she represented the United States and the Pan-American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, winning a gold medal as a member of the United States's 4×400 meter relay team.


1960 Born July 6 in Greenwood, Mississippi
1964 Moves with her family to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles
1974 Brother Robert shot by stray bullet while jogging on Los Angeles track
1979 Stars in track and field at California-State Northridge
1981 Marries Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alvin Hooks
1982 Gives birth to son Alvin Hooks, Jr.
1982 Gains 40 pounds a result of pregnancy, running career on hiatus
1982 Husband cut from Philadelphia Eagles
1983 Resume training under tutelage of Bobby Kersee
1983 Husband cut from Los Angeles Express of the United States Football League
1984 Wins 3 Gold Medals in the Los Angeles Olympics
1984 Appears on "Cosby Show" defeating Bill Cosby on final leg of a charity 4×400 meter relay race
1985 Begins speaking to Los Angeles school children about dangers of using drugs

Brisco-Hooks continued to run, and in 1981 she married a former standout on the Cal State Northridge men's track team, Alvin Hooks. Now known as Valerie Brisco-Hooks, she gave birth to a son, Alvin, Jr., the next year. The birth of her child almost proved to be the death of her running career. For the nine months of her pregnancy and the nine months that followed, Brisco-Hooks was physically inactive, preferring to watch soap operas. At her heaviest, Brisco-Hooks topped the scales at 198 pounds, almost 70 pounds above her competitive weight of 130.

When Brisco-Hooks finally became restless herself, her husband Alvin and her former coach Bobby Kersee persuaded her that she could compete again at a world class level. With Kersee as her coach and Alvin taking care of the baby (Alvin was cut from the Los Angeles Express of the United States Football League at the end of the 1983 season), slowly but surely Brisco-Hooks dropped weight and picked up her speed. Said Brisco-Hooks of her comeback, "I was really big. It took me a while to really believe in myself and want to run," but "Bobby kept coming to my house and saying, 'Valerie, I know you have it in you.'"

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsTrack and FieldValerie Brisco-Hooks Biography - Brother's Death Shaped Her Life, Pregnancy Impeeds Performance, Chronology, An Unprecedented Olympic Achievement