VALERIE BRISCO-HOOKS / by Molly Schiot

In the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Valerie Brisco-Hooks accomplished what no other athlete, man or woman, had ever done by winning gold medals in 200- and 400-meter races in the same Olympic Games. She capped her starring performance by running a leg on the United States women's 4×400 meter relay team and capturing her third gold medal of the games.Though she was born in the heart of the rural South in Greenwood, Mississippi, Brisco-Hooks moved with her family to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles—before she entered elementary school. Brisco-Hooks was one of ten children. Her father was a metal worker and her mother taught school. One of Brisco-Hooks's older brothers, Robert, was a star runner at Locke High School in Los Angeles. When she was fourteen, Robert and another brother Melvin were finishing a workout at the Locke High School track when a stray bullet struck Robert. He died later that day. When the police eventually learned who fired the gun, they did not prosecute the shooter because he was only in the ninth grade. He did not have to live with his guilt long, however, as one year and a day later, the boy who shot Robert Brisco was himself shot and killed.The loss of Robert helped her set personal goals and dedicate herself to achieving them. Urged by her high school's track coach to come out for the team, Brisco-Hooks proved to be a standout runner on the same track where her brother was slain. As she said afterwards, "Someone has to carry on the family name, so they chose me."

In the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Valerie Brisco-Hooks accomplished what no other athlete, man or woman, had ever done by winning gold medals in 200- and 400-meter races in the same Olympic Games. She capped her starring performance by running a leg on the United States women's 4×400 meter relay team and capturing her third gold medal of the games.Though she was born in the heart of the rural South in Greenwood, Mississippi, Brisco-Hooks moved with her family to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angelesbefore she entered elementary school. Brisco-Hooks was one of ten children. Her father was a metal worker and her mother taught school. One of Brisco-Hooks's older brothers, Robert, was a star runner at Locke High School in Los Angeles. When she was fourteen, Robert and another brother Melvin were finishing a workout at the Locke High School track when a stray bullet struck Robert. He died later that day. When the police eventually learned who fired the gun, they did not prosecute the shooter because he was only in the ninth grade. He did not have to live with his guilt long, however, as one year and a day later, the boy who shot Robert Brisco was himself shot and killed.The loss of Robert helped her set personal goals and dedicate herself to achieving them. Urged by her high school's track coach to come out for the team, Brisco-Hooks proved to be a standout runner on the same track where her brother was slain. As she said afterwards, "Someone has to carry on the family name, so they chose me."