He was born in San Jose, California, the son of Louis Augusta Balbach (1868-1908) and Nettie Viola (Bonar) Balbach (1873-1958. Louis died in Portland, Oregon. Louis James Balbach was a well known swimmer and diver in the Portland area, doing well in many competitions. He won an athletic scholarship to Columbia University, with whose team he went to the Olympics.
In 1920 he won the bronze medal in the 3 m springboard competition. In the 10 metre platform event he finished sixth. Louis finished his degree at Columbia University, and went on to become a lawyer.