Sammy Lee Ground-breaking US diver dies at 96

Lee won Olympic gold for the United States in London in 1948 and successfully defended his 10-meter diving Olympic championship in Helsinki in 1952.

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US 1948 and 1952 Olympic platform diving gold medalist Dr. Sammy Lee, who died of pneumonia complications at age 96, is seen with Olympic diving hopeful Brittany Viola of the United States in 2012 play

US 1948 and 1952 Olympic platform diving gold medalist Dr. Sammy Lee, who died of pneumonia complications at age 96, is seen with Olympic diving hopeful Brittany Viola of the United States in 2012

(Getty/AFP)
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Legendary diver Sammy Lee, the first Asian American to win Olympic gold for the United States, has died of complications from pneumonia at the age of 96.

Lee's son, Sammy Lee II, said Saturday that his father died peacefully in a Southern California hospital.

Born in Fresno to Korean immigrant parents, Lee won Olympic gold for the United States in London in 1948 and successfully defended his 10-meter diving Olympic championship in Helsinki in 1952.

He was the first male diver to repeat as Olympic champion.

He later coached some of the United States' best Olympic divers, including Greg Louganis, Bob Webster and Pat McCormick.

In addition to his involvement in the sport, Lee served in the US Army for 13 years, retiring with the rank of major.

He earned his medical degree from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and served for a time on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

He was appointed US Presidential Representative to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, 1972 Munich Olympics and 1988 Seoul Olympics.

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