A star athlete at Lincoln High School in East St. Louis, Illinois, Alfredrick "Al" Joyner went on to attend Arkansas State University. He competed with their track and field team throughout his college career, and by the time he graduated Al was a three-time NCAA All-American indoor champion, a three-time NCAA All-American outdoor champion, a four-time Southland Conference champ and had placed 8th in the triple jump at the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland.
In 1984, Al traveled to Los Angeles for the Summer Games to compete with the U.S. Olympic track and field team. With a leap of 56'-7.5", he became the first American in 80 years to win a gold medal in the triple jump. Al was also honored with the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given every four years to the best American competitor in an Olympic Field Event. That same year, Al cheered his sister Jackie Joyner Kersee as she competed in the heptathlon. When she captured a silver in the event, they became the first sibling teammates in U.S. history to medal during the same Olympics.
On October 10, 1987 Al married track legend Florence Griffith, later known as Flo Jo. The two met in 1980 at the Olympic trials registration and felt an instant connection. Al later assisted his brother-in-law, Bob Kersee, in coaching Florence to gold medals in the 100, 200 and 400-meter relay. Sadly, to the shock of Al and the couple's daughter Mary Ruth, Florence died from an epileptic seizure at the age of 38 in 1998.
After his wife's tragic death, Al began traveling to promote her newly published book, "Running for Dummies," and jump-start the Florence Griffith Joyner charity/scholarship fund. He also began directing the Flo Jo Community Empowerment Foundation, an organization dedicated to making dreams come true for the youth around the world. One dollar from every sale of "Running for Dummies" is donated to this foundation.
For demonstrating excellence on and off the track, Al has been inducted into the Arkansas State University Track and Field Hall of Fame (1993), the Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame (1997) and the Illinois Track and Field Hall of Fame (1999). He was hired by SportsToday.com to write columns on track and field for the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Australia. During this time, Al also coached two athletes with their sights on the 2000 U.S. Olympic Track and Field team, and was himself training to compete in the men's triple jump trials. Unfortunately, a knee injury prevented him from participating.
With 15 years of coaching experience under his belt, Al joined the University of California UCLA in Los Angeles' track and field staff as an Assistant Coach/Women's Jumps Coach in August 2000. "Al Joyner brings to our program world-class experience and recognition in the jumps, both as a competitor and coach," said Jeanette Bolden, UCLA's head women's coach. "I have known Al since 1983. I have always found him to be an extremely hard worker who is enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about the jumps."