Olympian Danny Harris' recovery leads back to Iowa State
Some good news about 1984 Olympic silver medalist Danny Harris, one of Southern California’s all-time track talents, a man who for years struggled with drug addiction that nearly killed him.
Harris, raised near Riverside, was the focus of one of my July columns. He had been a supreme track talent. Aside from the 1984 medal, there was his stunning defeat of Edwin Moses in 1987 -- which snapped Moses’ 122-race winning streak in the 400-meter hurdles -- and a trio of national collegiate track titles at Iowa State.
But Harris had also been banished from track and field competition in the mid-1990s because of his cocaine habit, sparking a long slide that eventually landed him in downtown L.A.’s skid row, where he lived for months in 2007 at the Midnight Mission recovery shelter.
My column noted that Harris’ recovery was going quite well, a great thing because Harris is a humane and generous sort, someone you can’t help but root for. Now I’m happy to report that Iowa State has just brought Harris back into the fold.
He recently moved from L.A. to Ames, Iowa, where he will take a half-dozen classes needed to finish his undergraduate degree and work as a track team assistant. Once he graduates, he hopes to coach track full time at the college level.
“It just feels good to be in the position to have something good happen and even more good to be in a position in my life to accept it,” Harris told me in a phone interview this week. “It just feels good.”
Added Iowa State track coach Corey Ihmels: “We’re really excited to have him come and help us, and to be of help to him ... after all, Danny Harris and Iowa State are synonymous.”
Kudos, Mr. Harris, we hope your run of recent success continues.
-- Kurt Streeter
Photo: Danny Harris, the 1984 Olympic silver medalist in the 400 high hurdles had fallen on hard times and moved into the Los Angeles Midnight Mission. He has been working on a documentary about skid row. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times