Leffall Jr. was born in May 1931 in Quincy, Florida to LaSalle and Martha Leffall. He was inspired by his father who was the first person in his family to be a teacher and professor. At an early age, Leffall Jr. understood the importance of getting a good education.
After high school, he attended Florida A&M University and received a B.S. degree, graduating summa cum laude. He later attended Howard Medical School where he graduated in 1952. Leffall interned at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in St Louis Missouri from 1952-1953 and was a junior resident at D.C. General Hospital and Freedmen’s Hospital from 1953-1956. He was a senior resident in Surgery at Freedmen’s Hospital. Dr. Leffall Jr. served as Assistant Professor of Surgery at Howard University College of Medicine from 1962 to 1966.
In 1979, Dr. LaSalle became the first black President of the American College of Surgeons in 1979, and the first black President of the American Cancer Society in 1978. He holds eleven honorary degrees and was appointed a member and chair of the President’s Cancer panel by President George W. Bush in 2002, and is the Chairman of the Board of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.