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Historic Los Angeles Moments of Athleticism
By Amanda Scurlock. Sports Writer
Published February 10, 2016

1984 Summer Olympics

Carl Lewis

Carl Lewis

Los Angeles became the hub for global athleticism for the second time in history during the 1984 Summer Olympics. 140 nations competed in 221 events that year. American Track and Field runner Carl Lewis earned four gold medals in the 200m, 100m, 4x100m relay race and the long jump. Lewis was the first athlete to win four gold medals in the Olympics since Jesse Owens triumphant wins in 1936.

The Los Angeles Lakers

LA Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers built a victorious reputation with consecutive championship runs. Veteran frontcourt players teamed up with young, talented point guards in two different decades to bring NBA Championships to Los Angeles. From the late 1970’s to the early 1990’s, NBA legends Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spearheaded the “Showtime” era, resulting in five championships. Around a decade later, NBA superstars Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal led the Lakers to three consecutive championships.

The USC Women’s Basketball Team

cheryl miller

After receiving over 250 scholarship offers, women’s basketball superstar Cheryl Miller took her talents to USC. She joined former Sparks player Pam McGee and current USC women’s basketball head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and helped the team earn their first National Championship in 1983. The USC Women’s Basketball team was the first USC team to be honored at the White House.

2015 Special Olympics

Breanna Clark (left) and Irene Green (right) hold the torch from the 1992 Olympic Games. (Amanda Scurlock/ LA Sentinel)

Breanna Clark (left) and Irene Green (right) hold the torch from the 1992 Olympic Games. (Amanda Scurlock/ LA Sentinel)

Los Angeles hosted the Special Olympics in 2015. The international event brought 3,000 coaches and 7,000 athletes from 165 countries to Southern California. USC and UCLA hosted a portion of the 25 sporting events that took place. Organizations like Special Needs Network, KJLH, and Toyota worked to bring awareness of people who live with special needs to Los Angeles.

Charles Fremont West

CharlesWest RoseBowl

It is believed that the first African American quarterback to play in the Rose Bowl was Charles Fremont West of the Washington & Jefferson College Presidents. They played against the University of California Golden Bears in 1922. That was the last Rose Bowl game to end in a tie (0-0). West was also captain of the track team and one of the few African-American student athletes to attend a private college.

Negro League on the West Coast

 Oakland Larks Negro League baseball team

Oakland Larks Negro League baseball team

At the end of WWII, Harlem Globetrotter founder Abe Saperstein founded the Negro West Coast League. It consisted of six teams, including the San Diego Tigers, Portland Roses, and the Los Angeles White Sox. The season started on May 12, 1946 and ended in August.

Categories: History (Sports) | Sports
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