In this article we will share with you everything you would ever want to know about skateboard legend Tony Hawk, and his inspiring story that changed the world of skateboarding forever.
Undoubtedly, Tony Hawk is the most famous and recognizable name when it comes to skateboarding in the world. Known as the Michael Jordan of the skating world, one can’t deny Tony Hawk’s talent.
From creating world records to launching skateboarding game series and making a huge contribution towards skate parks, Hawk is the most recognizable skateboarding legend. This man created some of the most epic moments in vertical skateboarding history. Let’s look at the life and career of the godfather of skateboarding; Tony Hawk!
A little bit of his early life; the beginning
Tony Hawk was born in San Diego, California on 12th May 1968 under the birth name ‘Anthony Frank Hawk’, he was a gifted child. So his real name is not Tony but we call him by the name people know him. His mother Nancy Hawk describes Tony hawk as a hyperactive child with a creative spirit. Tested with a 144 IQ, he transferred to higher classes.
At the age of 9, Tony received his first skateboard that helped the young Hawk get rid of excess energy. This is where it all began! His parents encouraged Tony as they thought it would just be a hobby but little did they know their child was preparing himself to become the skateboard legend.
He began entering skateboard competitions at age 11. After winning many amateur skate contests at home state, he developed skating skills and passion towards skateboarding was reaching peaks. Tony Hawk turned pro at the age of only 14 and signed a contract with the Powell Peralta team.
It didn’t take long to make a mark on the skateboarding sport!
Milestones in the professional career of Tony Hawk
Tony Hawk is aruably the most famous skateboarder in the world who won more than 70+ skateboarding competitions. He won the Spring Nationals Contest in 1983 at the age of 15. For the next 12 consecutive years, Hawk remained the World champion of the National Skateboard Association (NSA). Tony earned $100,000 per year as a teenager. His dad convinced him to invest some of his money in a home, real estate. He bought his first house at 17 and it was the one of the best investments he ever made.
In 1995 at age 27, he competed in the first-ever X Games and won a gold medal that made him the most recognized skateboarder in the world. The first breakthrough moment was when Hawk made the first 900 (one of the toughest tricks) on his skateboard at the 12th attempt on 27th June 1999 at X Games in front of a live audience and national TV. He had been trying to perfect this move from 10 years, this trick required Tony to spin at 900 degrees or 2 ½ revolutions in the mid-air.
By this time, Hawk became a mainstream celebrity. As reported by Hawk, it was the best day of his life. This brought him into the mainstream spotlight and become a household name. However, after he achieved the dream of landing a 900, Hawk announced his retirement in 1999 from professional competition at age 31 and continually performed at X Games till 2003.
This doesn’t mean that this skateboarding legend slowed down! Even though Tony retired technically in 1999, Hawk is still very much involved and influential in the skateboarding world.
Tony Hawk’s vision
Hawk had more dreams than winning skateboarding contests. From a very young age, Hawk’s idea was to bring the sport of skateboarding into the mainstream so let people recognize and engage in the skate sport.
He felt from the start that the sport and skateboarders as a whole didn’t get the respect. Tony was keen to change this common perception. It was never about money for Tony, his passion and support towards the sport is most important.
Tony Hawk traveled around the world in the late ’80s to give skating demonstrations and take part in contests. However, skateboarding was worldwide famous as a slacker’s hobby. Most of the Skate parks closed down since they couldn’t pay rents and insurance.
In 1992, a time when skateboard popularity significantly dropped off and Tony spent the next few years in financial turmoil. Despite the skating sport’s future uncertainly and decline, Hawk launched his own skateboard company with the name of Birdhouse Projects which became very popular and are still one of the most popular skateboard brands available today.
After a strong launch the company began to struggle for the next few years until his unexpected rise to fame in 2005 at the X Games event. Due to this big achievement and fame, Birdhouse also succeeded.
The resurgence in skateboarding popularity and Tony Hawk’s recognition all around the world made Birdhouse one of the most successful and biggest skateboard companies. Also, this recognition led to the emergence of a children’s skate clothing company named Hawk Clothing. Skateboards, skating wheels, trucks, shoes, and pads! Hawk’s products continue to sell in the hundreds of millions. Let’s face it, is hard for a skateboarder to look bad if they are wearing Tony Hawk Clothing.
Tony Hawk Video Games
Tony Hawk, the true legend changed the face of skateboarding sport in 1999. Hawk partnered with the Activision and launched the revolutionary video game franchise called Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
This game series has produced more than 10 popular main titles. The legend Hawk appears as a character and had a big influence on the gaming industry.
The game sale soared as Hawk became the first to land 900, in the same year. Among the popular sport games that changed the market, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was one of the top 3. The first 4 series of this game has sold millions of copies all over the world which took skateboarding to a whole new level.
The sport was more than ever and even resulted in the making of a few movies about skateboarding. A total of 19 Tony Hawk games released by 2015.
The venture of Boom Boom HuckJam
Hawk started the Boom Boom HuckJam tour in 2002 to showcase BMX, skateboarding, and freestyle motocross. The tour started from Las Vegas and then went to 31 different cities of the United States and finally to 6 amusement parks.
A lot of street skateboarding kids get in trouble with the law so he created Tony Hawk foundation in 2002 in response to lack of legal skate parks in the US. Using his wealth to help build many stake parks in low-income areas, his foundation has been awarded $5.8 million that created about 600 stake parks projects across the US. This encourages people to skate freely!
Life as a stuntman & actor
Aside from skateboarding, Tony Hawk was seen in TV shows, movies, and commercials. Hawk started a movie career as a stuntman in 1986 for ‘Thrashin’ movie. He also performed minor skateboarding stunts in ‘Police Academy Citizens on Patrol’. In 989, Hawk made an appearance as a skateboarder in the movie ‘Gleaming the Cube’ which features one of the most legit skate scenes.
After retiring from skateboarding, Hawk started to appear in many movies as side actors with small scenes which include xXx in 2002, Deck Dogz in 2004, jackass the movie, Haggard: The Movie, and Lords of Dogtown. This was followed by some books which include the best-selling autobiography of Tony Hawk named under Occupation: Skateboarder.
Hawk’s YouTube channel
Hawk launched his Youtube RIDE channel in 2012 to showcase what’s best for the skateboard industry. The channel features demos, tricks, tips, skate events, and interviews of top skateboarders. Hawk performed his last 900 at 48 on 27th June 2016 and posted on the RIDE channel while still continues to guide and serve new skateboard enthusiasts with his tutorials and instructional clips.
Fortunately Tony has accomplished everything he aimed to do in the skateboarding sport, but it wasn’t a very smooth ride. The story of skateboard legend ‘Tony Hawk’ gives us a lesson that to follow and preserve our passions through the highest end and even the lowest part. Being ambitious, focused, and strategic leads to success in skateboarding and every area of life! Don’t forget that, and teach your kids, if you do the work you can reap the rewards!