James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens was born September 12 , 1913. He was the youngest of ten children. In all there were 3 girls and 7 boys. His parents were Henry Cleveland Owens and Mary Emma Fitzgerald. His father was a sharecropper in Oakville Alabama. His family nickname for him was J.C. When he was nine his family moved to Cleveland Ohio during the great migration. It was in hopes that they would all find better opportunities there. While attending school there a teacher misunderstood his name J.C. being Jesse.
As a boy growing up in cleveland he would take on small jobs in his spare time. From delivering groceries, loading freight cars and working in a shoe repair shop. His father and older brothers worked at near by steel mill. He also realized some thing else that he was a pretty good runner and loved it as well. He would participate in track during junior high and his coach Charles Riley was a great support to Owens. Owens often credited his coach with his succesful carreer.
Jesse would first get a bit of national attention while a student at East Technical High School in Cleveland. His score of 9.4 seconds in the 100 yard dash tied the world record and his jump of 24 feet 9 1/2 inches in the long jump earned him the attention. Owens would specialize in the sprints and long jump and be recognized in his life time as "perhaps the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history" He would set 3 world records and In Berlin Germany Owens won international fame with 4 gold medals for the 100 meters, 200 meters , long jump and 4x100 meter relay. The ESPN team rated Owens as the sixth greatest North American Athlete of the 20th century and the highest ranked in his sports.