Davenport took part in his first Olympics in 1964, reaching the semi-finals of the 110 m hurdles event. In Mexico, in 1968, he reached the final and won: "From the first step, the gun, I knew I had won the race." In 1972 he finished fourth, and in his consecutive final, in 1976, he finished third to capture the bronze medal. He finished his Olympic career in Lake Placid competing as a bobsleigh runner, ending up 12th in the four-man competition. Davenport's other achievements include five national championships in the 60 y hurdles indoor event.
Willie Davenport was an army soldier; a private at the time of his first Olympic participation, he climbed up to Colonel of the United States National Guard at the time of his death. He died of an heart attack at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on June 17, 2002, leaving his children in a fight over his inheritance and where to bury him.