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Skateboard Legend Tony Hawk
Tony Hawk, in Los Angeles, June 2009. (AP)

Tony Hawk, in Los Angeles, June 2009. (AP)

If you’ve ever stepped on a skateboard, you no doubt know Tony Hawk – and know he is huge.

If you haven’t and don’t, you’re missing a wildly popular piece of Americana.

Skateboarding was born as the outlaw sport. Morphed over the years into “extreme sport”. Spawned a whole sub-culture – attitude, outlook, flying kids, fashion.

And Tony Hawk – skater, daredevil, hero, empire-builder – has been right at the heart of it. From spinning “900s” – i.e., 900 degrees, rolling in the sky – to spinning fortunes, dreams. The Michael Jordan of skateboarding.

This Hour, On Point: Tony Hawk.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.


Tony Hawk acquired his first board at age 9 and went pro by age 14. At the 1999 X Games he was the first skater ever to land a “900,” a trick which involves completing two-and-a-half revolutions. Now retired from professional skateboarding, he’s an athlete-entrepreneur, running a business empire complete with video games, Birdhouse Skateboards, and the charitable Tony Hawk Foundation. His new video game release is “Tony Hawk: Ride.” See trailers and reviews at GameTrailers.com.

Watch Tony Hawk complete his “900,” after eleven attempts, at the 1999 X Games in San Francisco:

Here’s Tony and friends doing cool moves in a recent Birdhouse video:

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  • Heather in Georgetown MA

    *So great* that you have Tony Hawk on! I read his autobiography years ago, and was very impressed. As a *very* amateur skater and engineering student at the time, I thought it was great that he managed to maintain his studies as well as his passion for skating, and do well with both. Now, as a soon-to-be mother, I’d love to hear about how his parents helped him keep such a positive and encouraging balance to his life. So many parents focus only on school, or only on whatever sport their child excels in. It seems he has developed into a very well-balanced person, strong on education, strong on sports, strong on giving back to the community. SK8 ‘r die!

  • Michael

    tony has expire pass his date.

    I was big in the 90s with me and my friends but now he reperesnt a corporate face to sell games and products most likely what he is going to do today i’m not listening.


  • Good Michael

    So early to be serving Haterade Michael (thanks for giving me a bad name). Seems like the more money one makes, the more critics said person acquires. Tony, (aong with Rodney Mullen)has done more for skateboarding kids and adults alike ALIVE OR DEAD. Give the man the respect he deserves. Heather is a smart cookie, why don’t you try to read his book like she and I have done, then sprack off about highly intelligent humans that confuse and frustrate you.


  • Alastair Battson

    I was there in San Francisco on the Bay under the bay Bridge in 99. I don’t skateboard. No real interest but it was and event to behold. Defiantly something I fully remember. You have to remember the number of times Tony tried that. He went over and over again, almost landed it a few times. So close. he looked knackered. Many people started to leave, i didn’t think he would make it. How could he! All of us get more and more tired as you try again and again and again. He fell so many times. He had to be hurting. I don’t know where he found the energy, the crowd I guess, but all of a sudden he managed. It. Awesome. the crowd went mad or course. I was amazed. Great day. that whole X-games was a great experience for me at 25.

  • Good Michael

    First segment: ONE BREIF mention of video games by the show host.

  • Emily Munoz

    Just wanted to say that a few years ago Tony and some of his colleagues came out to Oakley in California to do a special demonstration for children who have lost a parent in the military. The program, still active, is known as Snowball Express, and Oakley gave the families an amazing time at its store. It was awesome for the kids to see Tony ride (okay, and for the parents, too…he’s hot), and to show them that the kids that sometimes don’t feel like they fit in can really rise to great heights and do awesome things. Thank you, Tony! for showing up that day and making those kids feel special.

  • Michael Fairbank

    It’s pretty amazing how far this sport has come. When I was a kid in the late 60′s a neighborhood friend had a couple, about 4″ x 12″ with steel roller skate wheels.
    We thought getting over a garden hose was a major trick. In those days a home made skateboard was usually better than a commercial one.

  • Mike

    Can Tony please explain why I should consider this a “sport” instead of a hobby? To me, skateboarding is as much of a legitimate sport as skeet shooting, and most skateboarding I’ve seen in Boston is more of a nuisance than anything else. Thanks.

  • tania

    the mom who just called reminded me of a book my daughter and I just got out from the library, called Skateboard Mom, by Barbara Odanaka. It’s great! A boy looking for his skateboard finds his mom has it.

  • Doug

    I am 36 years old and started skating again last year when my 8 year old son started skating, and I love it. I’ve hooked up with a locale group of old guy skaters and we hit a park every week. It a great way to connect with my son. By the way, Tony, my son and I watched a 1985 bones brigade video last weekend, and he did not believe that that skinny kid riding the Mount Trashmore vert ramp was you.

    Ride is on our xmas list for sure.

  • Ryan Carrier

    How does Tony feel about skating and x games type events in the olympics?

  • Heather in Georgetown MA

    (Thanks Good Michael!) Most of this has been a great discussion of the sport itself and Tony’s experience with it. The video game is mentioned, but only as one detail in a larger lifetime of enterprises. Mostly he is discussing the positive things — about the sport itself, about the kids who can find their own way through skating, about being your own person and being OK about it. Granted, as Bad Michael said, it *could* have gone the super-commercial route…but it didn’t. I always got the impression that is not what it’s about for him. It’s about the love. Sharing the love. Shaka!

  • “Scab” Aaron Thompson

    I grew up in the wave of the initial skateboard creation phase. This sport for me not being so readily an expert at hand to eye coordination was such a strong outlet to release my frustration with trials growing up. This sport was always lock in step with the 80′s Newwaver music generation of people that never fit in to the mainstream. Skateboarding was always something different that I was good at that set me apart because I had the technical skill that evaded common logic in rules of gravity.
    The newwavers and the skaters set the trends of clothing, music and style for so many years due to their refusal to accept the normal mainstream thinking and sense of living.

  • Lon C Ponschock

    It was not until recently that I got a renewed appreciation of skateboard life (“Skate or die” as the t-shirt says.)

    I am in a small city and in the downtown one evening I saw some girls on boards. Prob’ly 12 or 13. Not little kids– young adult women skateboarding. This gave me some small idea that there could be real change in the world.

    Hey, skateboarding girls: go find some writing by Coco Fusco. You are on your way.

  • mary

    best on point ever

  • Chris

    I think Tony’s energy & relationship to what HE does is FABULOUS for kids (and, actually, for people of all ages)! His energy appears to be centered, generous, and curious! I feel like I was just exposed to one of the best TEACHERS I’ve ever had. (I’m decades older than he is!)

  • Good Michael

    Back atcha Heather! Spread the love. Just read the other great comments for proof. Tony has done more throughout his life for more kids than anybody I can think of. All across the globe, skateboarding has had positive effects on 100s of millions of people. And he continues to encourage and allow people to improve (and try for the first time)their skating skills. I got THride the day it came out. LOVE IT!! My ACTUAL skating ability noticeably increased after a day or 2 of virtual skating!! Think of the talent Tony’s game is going to cultivate by allowing millions to “practice” in their homes. Anytime, any weather, and, no park fees or cops!
    “When I was a kid”…I nailed steel roller skates to a 2×4…then, one Christmas, I was introduced to the glorious world of a little wooden Nash with trucks and CLAY wheels!!
    I am a small business owner/skater, and Tony is a near perfect role model in most aspects. Still surprises me that people can say anything negative about him at all.

  • Jim Fitzpatrick

    Tony Hawk has done so much for children around the world; he transcends what the typical definition or expectation of what a skateboarder is with his outreach to children everywhere. Despite the efforts of organized sports to homogenize youth athletics into a common experience with rules and wardrobes and “officials,” skateboarding (and other board sports) can still be about having fun! Imagine that! Fun. Millions of young people around the world enjoy skateboarding for what it is, a challenging sport redefining itself moment to moment. Here’s to children everywhere having fun!

  • Chris

    Mike (RE: your comment at 11:34 a.m., today),

    Hi! RE: your question: how is skateboarding a “sport” instead of a “hobby”? Here is my take on it:

    I’d ask: how is football a sport, when a man who does NOT move his body (the coach) has already pre-determined what the guys (the team) are supposed to do when THEY, not he, DO move THEIR bodies in real time & real space with real moving objects (other bodies & a ball), on a physical surface in three-dimensional space and within a time limit? Well, football IS a sport because of exactly what I said, above: guys move their bodies in real time & real space with real moving objects on a physical surface in 3-D space (& probably within a time limit in competitions). And, skateboarding is a sport for the same set of reasons, to me. As are: surfing (with a board), and that even “purer” sport (because the object is not man-made, but is a part of nature….a wave): BODY SURFING!

    Skate boarding could or may not be a team sport depending on how the rules are set up. When skate boarding is set up as individuals competing against one another, I’ll bet there are rules, goals or requirements that must be met to win. Sounds like a sport to me.

    Perhaps what you see as skateboarding in your city or town is the hours of dedication, practice, and ingenuity that young people put into their sport.

    Just a few thoughts!

  • http://ncpr stillin

    It was important to me, to get my son to see Tony Hawk because that is ny son’s sport, skateboarding. I learned a few things too, and some new words, like varial heel flip and olly and I am really glad skateboarding is embraced by many teens. I would rather have my teen son out skateboarding, than playing a video game in front of the boob tube. I would rather see people skateboard than scream at eachother to beat the other in so many team sports. I myself skateboarded with the little boards and concrete wheels back in the 60′s. I don’t buy the whole drug and party aspect some people attach to the sport. Also, I have witnessed the dedication and practise it takes to land some of these jumps done by skateboarders today. I think it’s awesome Tony Hawk is still doing his thing in his 40′s, more power to him.

  • Michael

    I still find it boring, his time has passed like many others, good/bad is in the eyes of the beholder. Just like Brown nosing Michael (yourself) and non-Brown nosing Michael (me)

    If it hurts your feeling someone could say something bad about Tony H. seek help

    Since you wish to put label good and bad ill put labels brown noser and non- brown noser.

    Good day

  • Barry

    When my sons were in their early teens, Tony wowed and inspired them to skate. Our vacations were spent at 25 skate parks in the western states and Canada. One son would watch Tony videos and then go out and do the tricks. The neighbors would call and say things like “do you know what your son is doing?” My boys are still skating and I love it!

  • Dylan Madru

    As an avid skater of the age of thirteen, i am excited to listen to such an a amazing man. He was and still is one of my idols and i really appreciate having him be able to come speak out and say that we aren’t that bad. I recently have been selected for a drug free campaign and again i am a skater.

    Skateboarding is one of the biggest pieces of my life.


  • Jerome Callaghan

    A little ancedote… We live in Middletown, RI and went to the first eXtreme games in Newport whenever it was a long time ago. My son was and is very into skateboarding and got Mr. Hawk to sign his board. He proceeded to skate off the signature because we felt the decks were so expensive. To this day it’s one of his favorite things to do. He’s now 23. I’d like to thank Mr. Hawk for following his passion and being such a great role model to so many children.


    Tony Hawk shreds dude.

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