Carl Lewis was born in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1981 Lewis won the James E. Sullivan Memorial Award, given annually by the AAU to the outstanding amateur American athlete.
At the 1983 track-and-field world championships in Helsinki, he won the 100 m dash and the long jump, and was a member of the winning U.S 4 x 100-m relay team.
In 1984 Olympic Games, Lewis gave his greatest career performance. His feat of winning 4 gold medals in the 100 m and 200 m dashes, the long jump, and the 4 x 100 m relay had only been accomplished once before, by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
Lewis won the long jump and was a member of the winning 4 x 100-meter relay team at the 1987 world championships in Rome. Although he was beaten by Canadian athlete Ben Johnson in the 100 m dash at the world championships, he was retroactively declared the winner when Johnson was disqualified the next year at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games for having used banned substances. Having placed second in the 100 m dash at the 1988 Olympics, Lewis was declared the winner of this race. Lewis also won the long jump and placed second in the 200 m race.
At the 1991 world championships in Tokyo, he again won the 100 m sprint and was a member of the winning U.S 4 x 100 m relay team.
Lewis won 2 more gold medals at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, in the 4 x 100 m relay and in the long jump. During the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, he won his 4th straight gold medal in the long jump. This victory made him only the fourth man to win 9 gold medals at the Olympic Games. Lewis set numerous world records in his events. He retired from competition in 1997.