Joseph Altman was the cross-country and track coach at Smallville High School.
His only daughter Julia cheered with Lana Lang and Megan Calder when they were in junior high school, but she was severely injured in a hit-and-run car accident while walking home one day. She was not expected to recover, but Mr. Altman kept her on life support for several years.
He finally took her off of life support in 2004 and shortly after her death, decided to kill himself. However, his death was foreseen by Jordan Cross and as he stepped into oncoming traffic, he was pushed to safety by Clark Kent. As he was recovering in the hospital, he heard one of his daughter's old friends, Megan Calder, confessing that she had fought with Julia the night she died. Lana also expressed regret for not going after her that night.
Upon recovery, Mr. Altman decided that Julia's death was Megan and Lana's fault. He kidnapped them and attempted to kill them and himself by burning down his house, but Clark and Jordan rescued the girls. Clark attempted to save Coach Altman as well, but he was unable to locate him before the house exploded.