Christian Hosoi: Skateboarding’s King of Style Rises to the Top, Falls and is Reborn

Christian Hosoi’s life has been filled with what he calls “spiritual markers.” His name was Christian, his nickname was Christ and his most well-known trick was the “Christ Air.” Hosoi, of Huntington Beach, CA., is a professional skateboarder and Associate Pastor of Sanctuary ChurchDuring his heyday, from the late 1980s to the early 90s, he was the rock star of skateboarding. He traveled the world, made hundreds of thousands of dollars and was skateboarding’s most popular rebel and hit of the party. He also became addicted to drugs, went to prison and later became a man of God. The spiritual markers were there but it took a long time to see them.

How did this happen?

Christian Hosoi was born in 1967 and grew up in California and Hawaii. His father was the manager of the Marina Del Rey Skateboard Park and Christian, who began skateboarding at age six or seven, spent every spare moment there. Dogtown legends Tony Alva, Jay Adams and Shugo Kubo (link to profiles) saw something special in the kid. He had grace and ability far beyond his years. Hosoi almost immediately began winning contests, dropped out of school and turned pro at age 14. Hosoi’s life moved very fast. He was briefly with Powell Peralta, was a member of the Dogtown and Sims team and had a signature skateboard model with Alva Skates. All of this happening in his early teenage years.

But just as Hosoi started his rise, skateboarding went through a downturn. For several years contests and earnings were sporadic but Hosoi stuck with it and started his own skateboard company. His signature skateboard was the HammerheadThe design was revolutionary and influenced a generation of skaters and companies. It became common in the industry to have signature skateboard models with original or odd shapes. Much of this was due to Hosoi and his popularity. His influence went beyond his ability on a skateboard. He had charisma, good looks and easy-going confidence that allowed to get away with odd fashion choices and behavior that would be laughed at if it was anyone but Christian Hosoi.

The Hosoi style was in direct contrast to his main rival, Tony Hawk. While Hosoi was about big airs and clean lines, Hawk was technical and trick-oriented. Skateboarders respected Hawk, but were drawn to Hosoi with his rockstar persona, graceful lines and huge airs. Ironically, it was a trick that jolted skateboarding next revival and fired the imagination of the masses. Mike McGill (link to profile) invented the mind-blowing 540 air. The trick involves one and half revolutions and requires massive air to pull off. Both Hawk and Hosoi mastered the new trick and rode their boards to new heights of popularity

As the world’s most popular skateboarder and with skateboarding’s revival in full swing, Hosoi started a skateboard team. All the team members looked and dressed like Hosoi and they put on demos around the world. Hosoi was making $250,000 per year but was spending it as fast as he got it.  Cars, parties and a house in Hollywood were some of the perks Hosoi enjoyed but cracks were beginning to show.

Around this time Hosoi started experimenting with heavier drugs, specifically Crystal Meth. Although Hosoi had been a serious partier since he was very young, he had trouble handling the new drug. A couple of scrapes with the law and a missed police hearing led to a warrant for his arrest. Hosoi started to avoid demos and contests to escape arrest. This, coupled with another downturn in skateboarding and a shift in popularity from vert skating to street skating led to big troubles for Hosoi. Much of the mid to late 90s Hosoi’s life spiraled into addiction and financial problems.

In January, 2000, Hosoi was arrested, charged and convicted of transporting one and a half pounds of Crystal Meth with intention to distribute. He served five years of a ten year sentence. By all accounts, his time in prison saved his life. With the help of his girlfriend, who later became his wife, he overcame his addiction, found God and turned his life around.

Today Hosoi is married and has four children. Since his release, Hosoi has participated in many legends skateboard competitions and even won a few. His Facebook posts are sprinkled with bible quotes and videos of his sons skateboarding. Hosoi still travels the world putting on demos. Sponsors include Hosoi Skates, Vans, Nixon and Independent Trucks among others. As Associate Pastor of the Sanctuary Church, Hosoi offers a message of hope and restoration and uses skateboarding to spread the faith.

Hosoi’s competitive career includes 13 first place finishes and he won the TransWorld Legends Award in 2009. In 2012 Hosoi released his biography: “Hosoi: My Life as a Skateboarder Junkie Inmate Pastor.” ()The book was co-written by Hosoi and Chris Ahrens with the forward by Tony Hawk.