Birdman Tony Hawk: Skateboarder and Entrepreneur Continues to Soar

What is an icon?

One definition of icon is “A person who is very successful or admired.” Another definition is “An object of uncritical devotion.” Tony Hawk can accurately be described by the first definition but not so much by the second.

Tony Hawk, 49, of Encinitas, CA. began skateboarding around age nine when his brother gave him a skateboard. He quickly became one of the best skateboarders in the world but it’s his rivalry with Christian Hosoi  that many people remember.

Hosoi and Hawk traded victories in the 1980s but it was Hosoi who won the hearts of the masses. Although Tony Hawk was the king of skateboarding tricks, he was described by some as gangly and robotic and Hosoi, while highly skilled, was all about style and image. And their lifestyles unfairly added to these images. Hosoi was the ultimate rebel and rock star while Hawk was more conservative and reserved.

During the 80s Tony Hawk belonged to the influential Bones Brigade. The skateboarding team was put together by the Powell Peralta skateboard company. Stacy Peralta, an influential skater from the 70s, started the team and began to make videos of the team. The videos were very popular and have influenced generations of skateboarders. Former team members include Lance Mountain, Mike McGill, Rodney Mullen and Steve Caballero. 

Quietly, Tony Hawk parlayed his skateboarding skills and exposure on the Bones Brigade into a career that saw him on top for several decades. Some of the 100 skateboarding tricks he invented include: the Kickflip McTwist, the Frontside 540 and the Stock 720. His most famous trick is the 900 degree aerial. First landed in 1999, the trick includes two and a half revolutions. Incredibly, Hawk was able to land the trick in 2016 at age 48. He is also a 12-time world champion and 16-time X Games medalist.

For all his success, Hawk was on the verge on bankruptcy in the early 90s. Skateboarding’s popularity was on the decline but he started Birdhouse Projects with former Bones Brigade team member, Per Welinder. Though the company had a rocky start, it eventually became one of the top skateboarding companies especially with the advent of the ESPN’s X-Games. His popularity in skateboarding led to the very successful video game series which include 19 different games and ran through 2015. But Hawk wasn’t done there. He later started the RIDE skateboard channel which has 1.3 million subscribers on Youtube.

Hawk’s 24 year-old son Riley is a chip off the old block. He is a well-known and respected professional skateboarder and is sponsored by Baker and Lakai Limited footwear. And so it begins again…