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Track & Field royalty shines on a different stage

INDIANAPOLIS -- Paying homage to the final home appearance of the Pacers’ most fashionable uniforms, Mary Joyner, daughter of designer and track & field superstar Florence Griffith-Joyner, sang the national anthem to open the Pacers game against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
“This is huge,” said the talented daughter, who had only seen sketches of her mom’s work. “I have never really been to an NBA game, so being able to watch and see the uniforms in person means so much to me because I know my mom’s work is being appreciated.”
Talent runs in the family, as Mary’s father, Al Joyner, won Olympic triple jump gold in 1984 and now works for Indianapolis-based USA Track & Field as a coach at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California.
Flo-Jo, who still holds world records in the 100 (10.49) and 200 (21.34) meters, set the first of these two fast times at USATF Outdoor Championships in Indianapolis in 1988.
The legendary Donnie Walsh of the Pacers remembers when the team recruited the track & field legend to bring more style to the Indiana team.
“Basically we were looking for new uniforms, and Florence had been in the Olympics and had that style that only she had at that point,” said Walsh. “Somebody in our organization said, ‘we should have her design our uniforms or at least put a design in,’ so we did and she sent in some that we liked.”
The Pacers met with the legend, and her designs appeared in the Pacers’ uniform rotation from 1990-97, during some of the franchise’s most successful years on the hardwood.
“First seeing the sketches, I thought these could be used today,” said daughter, Mary. “When I found out that she had done the Pacers uniforms, I was just blown away because she had done so many sketches of different types of uniforms, and her work is just timeless.
“She was was way ahead of her time. She’s not just an athlete, she had talents beyond this world.”
As she prepared to sing a song her mother heard while atop international podiums time and time again, Joyner said, “She lives on in spirit, and I’m just here to make her proud.”

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