William Harrison Dillard was born July 8, 1923, in Cleveland, Ohio, and was given the nickname “Bones” for his slender build while in grade school. He would later go on to become one of the nation’s most notable track-and-field athletes. Now, in this biography, he shares his life story.
The eventual winner of four Olympic medals, he attended the same high school as his friend and hometown hero, Jesse Owens. He was a successful athlete in college and served in the Ninety-Second Infantry (the Buffalo Soldiers) during World War II, where he distinguished himself in the service of his country.
After the war, Bones continued his athletic career, winning eighty-two consecutive races over a span of eleven months, during 1947 and 1948. He then qualified to represent his country at the 1948 Olympics in London and again in 1952 in Helsinki, matching and setting records at both.
Following his historic Olympic career, he met and married Joy Clemetson, a prominent member of the Jamaican National Softball Team; together, they built a family. Bones went on to careers in public relations, sportscasting, and education.
Considered to be one of the greatest male sprinters and hurdlers in history, he was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1974 and received numerous other honors. Even so, he was and still is a gracious, courteous, humble, generous, and courageous athlete—a genuine American hero.
“Harrison Dillard is an amazing man. He is admirable not only for his athletic accomplishments, but also for his character, showing a unique awareness of how the choices we make define ourselves. He has faced crucial and challenging decisions and issues throughout this life and never turned away, not one time.”