Celebrating Black Excellence: Remembering Rafer Johnson

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 14, 2021) – Renata Simril, the LA84 President and CEO was featured on NBC episode of Celebrating Black Excellence with Lolita Lopez, where she explained the importance of Rafer Johnson’s Legacy.


Rafer Johnson was an Olympic champion, activist, humanitarian, actor, devoted husband, and father. A decorated Olympic decathlete, he lit the Olympic flame at the Olympic summer games in 1984. A humanitarian, he helped launch the California Special Olympics which continues to serve individuals with intellectual disabilities.

His daughter Jenny recounts how grateful he was for the people in his life. Johnson credited his coaches for his athletic success. He was remarkable at balancing family and work life. The UCLA graduate was a phenomenal athlete and active in the community during his tenure as student body president.

Johnson, a founding board member of the LA84 Foundation is remembered by LA84 President and CEO Renata Simril as, “our north star.”


The exhibit at the LA84 Foundation library celebrates his legacy and displays an extensive collection of his awards and mementos.

Johnson’s goal to teach children “to become their best selves through sport” lives on through LA84 Foundation’s Play Equity Fund.  The Play Equity Fund aims to ensure that every kid regardless of socioeconomic income, gender, and race can experience the transformational power of sport.

Johnson is remembered for speaking up for what is not right  His legacy burns as an eternal flame that never goes dark.


About the LA84 Foundation
The LA84 Foundation is a nationally recognized leader in support of youth sport programs and public education about the role of sports in positive youth development. The foundation has supported thousands of Southern California youth sports organizations through grant making and funding facilities and fields of play, while also training coaches, commissioning research, convening conferences and acting as a national thought leader on important issues in the youth sports industry. LA84 levels the playing field to ensure all youth have access and opportunity despite economics, gender or ability, while elevating the field of youth sports as an integral pathway to lifelong well-being. To learn more, visit www.la84.org and @LA84Foundation on Twitter and Instagram.

About the Play Equity Fund
A 501(c)3 public charity, the Play Equity Fund was established by the LA84 Foundation in 2014 and is focused on bringing the transformational power of sport and play to all children, regardless of their race, gender, zip code or socioeconomic status. The Play Equity Fund achieves this by raising awareness of inequities, supporting the sports-based youth development ecosystem for greater impact, and developing partnerships to advocate for funding and sustainable solutions to ensure kids have access and opportunities to pathways for lifelong well-being. To learn more, visit PlayEquityFund.org, or @PlayEquityFund on Twitter and Instagram.