Bronze Statue Honors Memory of Florence Griffith Joyner

For just a moment, they were whole again: Al, Mary and Florence. Together.

Exactly eight months to the day after Al Joyner and his daughter Mary awoke to find Florence Griffith Joyner had passed away in her sleep, Al and Mary were on hand Friday in Laguna Hills to unveil a bronze statue of the woman the world knew and loved as Flo-Jo.

For Al Joyner, the ceremony was heart-rending, especially the part when he and Mary, 8, posed for photographers alongside the statue, both of them leaning in close and hugging the cold metal.

"Seeing it and feeling it, I almost think it's her," he said. But "all I have is her spirit."

The larger than life statue is based on a photograph of Griffith Joyner with her arms flung in the air, her trademark long nails visible, as she crossed the finish line to win the 100-meter race in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Commissioned by Saddleback Memorial Medical Center, where Griffith Joyner was once a patient, the statue is meant as a permanent tribute to a woman who symbolized "grace, integrity and originality," said Barry Arbuckle, the medical center's chief executive officer.

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