For Jesse Owens, Lutz Long was what I term a :”flash” mentor. In the book, I make the distinction between flash mentors and long-term mentors. For example, Coach Pop Riley was a long term mentor who worked with and guided Jesse for years. Lutz Long, on the other hand, was a total stranger to Jesse, but in one brief, critical moment, gave Jesse guidance and encouragement that had positive, profound consequences.
But not only was Lutz Long a flash mentor…he was a forever friend. After the Olympics Lutz and Jesse corresponded through letters and cards. And when Lutz lost his life fighting for a leader and a cause he didn’t support, Jesse still felt connected to the spirit of his friend.
Years later, Jesse finally had an opportunity to return to Berlin to star in a television special about the 1936 Olympics. It was thrilling for Jesse to revisit some of the old sites where he made history as a young man. But his biggest thrill was to meet a young man who had blonde hair and an athletic build—Lutz Long’s son, Karl. For Jesse, it was almost like seeing his old friend again…
Here’s a link to the Jesse Owens television special. I’ve cued it to the section on Lutz and Karl Long.