CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Jesse Cleveland Owens grew up in Cleveland and though his middle name had nothing to do with geography he's left his mark on Northeast Ohio and the world.
Owens died of cancer in 1980, but now a film about his life is set to hit the big screen on Feb. 18.
It's a story that's 88 years in the making. It started in Cleveland in 1928 that's when the son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave started breaking records in junior high school.
"He was not one to say, 'let me sit you down and say, let me tell you about the Olympics,'" said Marlene Owens Rankin, the youngest daughter of Jesse Owens.
Marlene Owens Rankin was honored by the Cleveland Cavaliers for Black History Month last week.
Also honored, the star of the film "Race" Canadian-born actor 22-year-old Stephan James.
"I had to pay attention to how he started his race, how his stride looked, and the way he ran," said Stephan James who trained for 5 months to perfect Owens' running style and fitness level.
Owens became the first American track and field athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad.
He also defied racial tension as Nazi symbols surrounded him with Dictator Adolf Hitler standing by in Berlin.
"He believed in paying back so he did a great deal for the university. He would never say no," said Owens Rankin.
The Owens family did say no, reviewing the script that will depict their father several times over the course of years. Their goal was to make sure the film "Race" was factually and historically correct. The family visited Berlin and France over the course of five years.
There's no doubt Jesse Owens has already left his mark on all of us, but this first-of-its-kind biopic about his life will live in our history forever.
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