Olympic Gold Medalist Rafer Johnson Passes Away At 86 Years Old

Former Olympian Rafer Johnson has passed away at the age of 86. The Texas native passed away on Wednesday in Sherman Oaks, California surrounded by his family.

Johnson is well known as a philanthropist, athlete and actor. As an athlete, he earned a silver medal in the decathlon at the 1956 Olympics in Australia. Three years later, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams despite never playing college football. In 1960, he earned his first and only Olympic gold medal in the decathlon. Outside of the world of sports, Johnson built up his name as an actor. He starred in Wild in the Country, Pirates of Tortuga and A License to Kill. Not to mention, he tackled and subdued Sirhan Sirhan after he assassinated Robert Kennedy in 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California.

"[I send my] condolences to the Rafer Johnson family. We used to jokingly refer to ourselves as cousins, though not related. He was one of the most genuine, decent, and nicest men I have ever known. [He was] one of the greatest athletes in the history of the world. [May he] rest in peace," fellow UCLA Bruin Elder Marques Johnson tweeted.

Johnson is not the only person of note within his family. His brother, Jimmy Johnson, was inducted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, his daughter, Jennifer Johnson, earned a spot on the Olympic beach volleyball team in 2000. Adding on to the family history, his son, Joshua Johnson, competed at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Johnson leaves behind his wife, two children and brother. Public funeral proceeding details have not been shared.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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