In 1998, beautiful track athlete Florence Griffith Joyner, "FloJo" died in her sleep at the age of 38. A blazing comet, called "the fastest woman in the world," she was a media sensation who lived her life in fast-forward, with flash and flair.
"I like being unconventional," she once admitted.
Her 100-meter record (10.49), set at the 1988 U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, remains unchallenged. Sports Illustrated assessed that "it will surprise no one if it remains in the books for another 20 years."
She stunned the world later that year at the Seoul Olympics with her amazing athletic ability, winning gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter races and in the 400-meter relay. Not bad for a poor girl from Watts, California.
"People don't pay much attention to you when you are second best," she said. "I wanted to see what it felt like to be number one."
She got her wish and looked great, too, with long fingernails, hair flying in the wind, and distinctive, colorful outfits. "Looking good is almost as important as running well," she said, a celebration of positive self-esteem. "It's part of feeling good about myself."
After retiring from competition, the running champion established a foundation for disadvantaged youth to encourage them to study and participate in athletics. Her answer to admirers who longed to be just like her? "Don't be just like me. Be better than me."
"In the beginning, she was one of 11," eulogized sports writer Jim Huber, "In the end, she was one a kind."
Pray hard, work hard, and leave the rest to God.