Louganis was given up by his young parents for adoption when he was just three months old. He was raised in California, was ridiculed for the colour of his skin, experienced learning difficulties at school and even fell into alcohol abuse.
However one thing pulled him back from the precipice; an unequalled ability to dive with consummate grace and athleticism.
He finished second in the 10m platform event at the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976 and won his first world title two years later in Berlin.
He would have been a warm favourite for the springboard and platform events at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow but for the United Stated-led boycott of the event.
When competition started at the Olympic Swim Stadium in downtown Los Angeles in 1984, Louganis was the clear favourite not only among the bookmakers but also among the home crowd.
The gulf in class was there for all to see; with each dive he extended his lead and the crowd in the arena were whipped into a frenzy.
To say his victory in the springboard event was crushing would be an understatement. He finished on 754.41 points and won by the biggest ever margin in the history of the event.
Four days later And Louganis completed the double, producing another breathtaking performance in the platform event to become the first diver since another American, Pete Desjardins, won double gold at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.
Louganis sealed his place in the annals of the Olympic Games four years later when he repeated the double at the Seoul Games, after infamously clipping the board with his head in the springboard event.