Tony's Take: The Legendary Greg Foster Passes Away

The incomparable Greg Foster at his namesake invite in 2019 has smiles and enjoyment


They say the significance of death happens in threes. That phrase seems to be lament as I weathered some TOUGH losses. My mother (my aunt Carmeta) lost her sister two weeks ago. My wife Kristina's sister Brianna passed away very recently, and one of my favorite rappers/musicians from De La Soul (Plug 2/Dave) was taken away. 

Now it's Greg Foster who has transitioned. 

I have always been known to keep my emotions in check and away from those who are closest to me. I don't if it was a sign of strength or weakness, but protecting those around me and absorbing any pain or trauma is something bestowed upon me.

This past weekend I missed covering and managing some significant track meets and content, but I knew it was important to keep guard when I was told "we got you." Somehow, letting others absorb my stressful situations is not a good trait in my DNA.

YOU SEE... the word was given to me more than a week ago regarding the legendary Greg Foster. "Tony, man say a prayer for Greg Foster tonight before you lay down to sleep." A good friend said this to me as I sat in the stands of a track meet. It was not a good feeling at all because I knew it was the beginning of the end for Mr. Foster. 

Carl Lewis is my all-time track and field hero from any era and especially the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Games. But for some reason, I can still recall Foster taking second at the Games in the 110 High Hurdles.

Who remembers second place??

Little did I know at the time Foster destroyed an amazing field at the trials, including the eventual Olympic champion Roger Kingdom. Foster appeared on the surface as a bearded nerd with Urkel-style glasses. But he was also from the dangerous UCLA crew that produced so many champions. Just a year prior in 1983, Foster had won the world championship and was the favorite to take the cake in '84.

I firmly believe that the false start cost Foster the 1984 Gold Medal. Be as it may, he took second, and in my mind, that silver medal was a lasting image. It was the mystique that Chicago athletes display when they are away from home. So in this case, second place exceeded the gold medal winner.

The Maywood native was a star at Proviso East High School. Prior to earning stripes as a hurdler phenom, former head coach Steve Lawerence told me that Foster could do it all. The relays, the long hurdles (330H- yes it was yards before 1980), and the open event like the 200m. He could do it all.

My first claim to fame with Greg Foster was in 2002 when I wrote my first stat book called "Illinois Greatest." Foster happened to be at the coach's clinic at Oak Park-River Forest High School. He indiscreetly stopped by and I utter disbelief to see him, asking if he could sign one of my books. The great Mr. Foster did it without hesitation and completed my request. I am to this day internally grateful. 

Rest in power Mr. Greg Foster.