Alumni Spotlight: Tyree Washington, “The Fastest Man in the World”

Tyree Washington spent most of the past 20 years breaking records.

Raised in Riverside, Washington joined the track and field team at La Sierra High School to get in shape for football, but discovered that he had real talent, and became the 1994 California State Long Jump Champion. While attending Riverside Community College, SBVC track and field coach Blackman Ihem told Washington if he would come to Valley, he’d make him even better. Washington made the switch in 1997, and soon enough broke the national record for 400 meters with a 44.52 time, won the 200 and 400 meters at the California Community College Championships, was a bronze medalist at the 1997 Outdoor World Championships in Athens, and was a silver medalist in the 200 and 400 meters at the 1998 Goodwill Games.

Photo: Living Out Loud LAWashington signed with the San Diego Chargers in 1999, but was released after becoming injured at the end of camp. The Oakland Raiders picked him up, but Washington decided to return to track, and he was the fastest man in the world in 2001. He had some health and personal setbacks, and wanting to do something to help kids, started working as a Riverside County probation officer in 2002. In 2003, Washington had what he considers the best year of his track career — he became the Indoor World Champion for 400 meters, Outdoor World Champion for 400 meters, USA Indoor 400 meters champion, and Outdoor 400 meters Champion. He was also a World Outdoor silver medalist and took first place at the Nike Prefontaine Classic. Washington went undefeated the entire year and was ranked number one in the world at the 400 meters.

Washington was unstoppable. In 2005, he became the World Athletic Final 400 meters champion and in 2006, a 4×400 meters relay gold medalist at the International Association of Athletics Federations World Indoor Championships. He knew it was time to quit his athletic career soon after, when he had a bulging disc and was unable to pass a physical to return to football.

He wasn’t done with the world of sports, though. Washington had seen many athletes destroy their careers by using performance enhancing drugs, and he established KILLAROID to educate young people on the dangers of such drugs. He recently rebranded and expanded the organization to educate kids on all types of drugs, calling it Drugs B Gone. He is working on launching a foundation to help people suffering from asthma, and is a volunteer with Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

Washington travels the country as a motivational speaker and freelance analyst, working with the major networks. He lives in Kansas with his children and wife, Monica, and is starting to write an autobiography. “I love helping, motivating, inspiring, and giving people hope,” Washington said. “I’ve been through a lot in my life…everybody has a story. I want to tell my story [and] I want to give people hope from all walks of life.”