Stephens, the Fulton Flash, was a strong athlete in sprint events - she never lost a race in her entire career - but also in weight events like the shot put and discus throw, and she won national titles in both categories of events.
Aged only 18, Stephens was sent out to the 1936 Summer Olympics. There, she won the 100 m final, beating reigning champion Stanislawa Walasiewicz. Her time of 11,5 was below the World Record, but was not recognised because of a too strong back wind. Next, Stephens anchored the American 4 x 100 m relay team that won the Olympic title after the leading German team dropped its baton.
Stephens retired from athletics shortly after the Games and played some professional baseball and softball. From 1938 to 1952, she was the owner and manager of her own basketball team (semi-professional).