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1984 Olympic downhill skiing gold medalist Bill Johnson takes himself off life support

Jul 16, 2013, 8:04 PM EDT

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Bill Johnson, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the men’s downhill, has “shut himself down,” his mother told 3 Wire Sports.

“He has no quality of life from this point on and never will,” DB Johnson-Cooper said.

In a note sent Sunday to family and friends, DB wrote, “The doctor was very frank with him and Bill knew exactly what he wanted. He shed a few tears, which was a very hard thing to see.”

On the telephone Tuesday, she said, “He has no physical use of any part of his body. He has difficulty even raising his head. His mind is still very keen but his body has literally shut down.”

Johnson, 53, was hospitalized June 29 and spent two weeks in intensive care while doctors unsuccessfully attempted to find the source of an infection that attacked all of his major organs, according to the U.S. Ski Team.

Johnson predicted he would win the downhill at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Games and followed through, becoming the first American man to wear Olympic Alpine gold.

The man with the “Ski To Die” tattoo was left off the 1988 Olympic team, lost his son to drowning in 1992, and his marriage ended in 1999.

Johnson attempted a comeback prior to the 2002 Olympics but a horrible skiing crash left him in a temporary coma and with severe brain injuries. In 2010, he suffered a major stroke.

  1. Clayton Bigsby - Jul 16, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    RIP…Wild Bill

  2. dirtydrew - Jul 17, 2013 at 1:01 AM

    Tragic. Have a good journey bro….

  3. smtsystmz - Jul 17, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    Reblogged this on smtsystmz and commented:
    The “Great” Bill Johnson, craziest downhillr’ and turned me onto my Atomic Arc Red Sled’s
    @ 204cm and just a first year skiin’ fanatic, I would point em’ downhill and FLY w/big wide
    turns and ice eatin’ edges!!!!!GOD needs some downhill tips, so he’s sending up the best…
    Peace you shall rest in,forever……Later brother

  4. FOX 17 News - Jul 17, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    As a young man you took up skiing and turned your life around. You have been an inspiration to countless kid. God bless you.

  5. mogogo1 - Jul 17, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    A true original. I’m so sorry for the horrible run he had towards the end.

  6. aa1829 - Jul 17, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    This article spoke in the present tense, and never actually said he passed on. So he is gone?

    • dmcannon99 - Jul 17, 2013 at 5:59 PM

      Why does aa1829 deserve ANY thumbs down? Johnson is still alive at this point, but several people have made posts intimating that he has already died. His question was valid – do people just like denigrating others for no reason? I hope for the best for Johnson, whatever his outcome, but you folks need to be a little less petty…

      • dmcannon99 - Jul 17, 2013 at 6:23 PM

        I expect to get LOTS of thumbs down, so just pile it on. Only serves to prove my point.

      • makofoto - Jul 18, 2015 at 7:22 PM

        As far as he’s concerned he’s as good as gone. Thus he took himself off life support. I had to do that with my girl friend a couple of months ago. Organ failure from lymphoma. Once she was “unplugged” her body could have continued for maybe a day or two. She had been unconscious for over 12 hours by then. Kept alive on
        blood pressure stimulants. Two of three were no longer effective. The third was losing it’s potency. As her breathing became shallower and more labored they increased the morphine a bit to make sure she was “comfortable,” and then she flat lined. Yes it was horrible to do. Karen was a race car driver and hated what had happened to her.

  7. florida727 - Jul 25, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    I hope ESPN does a lengthy documentary-type story on his life. From what has to be one of the most incredible highs (Olympic Gold) to the series of personal lows (loss of a son, divorce, now this, etc.), I’d love to learn more about him from the people who know/knew him best, his parents, friends, etc. Sounds like a great guy who went through some painful times. It would be nice to get perspective on his life.

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