San Diego-raised pro skateboarder Tony Hawk built his career out of achieving many firsts. By 19 years old, he invented maneuvers known and loved by the skateboarding community today — such as the 720, the Madonna, and the Frigid Air. He created a series of video games that made skateboarding accessible to all communities at the height of the millennium. He carved a name for himself as the first person to land a 900-degree spin at the X Games in 1999, already 31 years old at the time. In an iconic video, he landed the same maneuver again at age 48. In 2015, he skated the first-ever full spiral loop. He’s even appeared in a multitude of popular TV shows, like The Simpsons, Rocket Power, and The Masked Singer. No matter the feat, Tony Hawk’s extreme passion and dedication have brought skateboarding universal visibility.
Tony Hawk gained status as a pro skater by age 14. He often says that his success was unexpected. Growing up, he simply viewed skateboarding as the perfect combination of creativity and athleticism and as an outlet for himself. After graduating from Torrey Pines High School in 1986, Tony Hawk grew committed to learning about others and diversifying communities through a shared love of the sport. He often gifts boards from his own collection to aspiring skaters and sometimes even coaches younger generations of skaters. In 2002, he created the Tony Hawk Foundation in response to families that expressed frustration at the lack of safe public spaces to skate. The organization has since helped open nearly 600 skateparks across the United States and provided funding for programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa. And, in May 2020 it was announced that the Tony Hawk Foundation will be partnering with the Find Your Grind Foundation to build a brand new skatepark in Detroit in 2021.
When he’s not competing, he’s probably still skating. He usually spends three to four days a week skating with his family and friends. He is active on social media and usually vlogs or tweets about funny moments or useful lessons from his experiences. He’s had a fair share of challenges along the way, too, but has proven time and time again that dedication is everything. After he severely injured his pelvis in 2003, he was faced with the question of continuing to grow or ending his professional career. He chose to push through the recovery phase, refocus on fundamental skills, and rediscover what he valued most about the sport outside of the perks of fame. To this day, he continues to approach skating as a means of self-expression.
“There’s always something new to learn.”
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