From the mid ’90s into the new millennium, Tony Hawk single-handedly brought skateboarding into the mainstream, becoming an icon in both sports and pop culture. Today, Hawk juggles family life with the task of being skateboarding’s de facto ambassador. When he came by our offices to show us how to do an ollie, we were definitely on our toes—but he floored us with some simple real-world advice.
Men’s Fitness: A lot of people think you’re retired. Are you still skating, or is the board sitting in the Smithsonian somewhere?
Tony Hawk: Landing the first 900 at the X Games was something I’d been chasing for nearly 10 years, and it kind of marked the end of my competitive career, so it was great to end on a high note in terms of competition, and it allowed me to chase more opportunities that involved skating. For some reason the perception was that if I wasn’t competing, I was finished skating. In reality, it let me skate even more.
MF: It’s no secret you get banged up. What’s the worst injury you’ve sustained?
TH: Broken pelvis. It took almost two months to be able to walk again. I would say I really wasn’t skating up to par for maybe six months after that, and then to regain my confidence, it took me about a year to be able to do all of the tricks I was doing before the injury. That really hurt.
MF: How has life changed since you first started skating?
TH: I have a ton more responsibility in terms of kids and family, and my time is much more spoken for. I really do have to schedule time to skate. When I was in my early 20s, I’d go skate whenever I wanted to. These days I have to carve out time during the week, which is not something I ever expected I’d have to do. Skating was sort of my salvation, my release, and I could just do it whenever. Now it’s like, when the kids are in school, I tell myself it’s time to go skating and try to do something new.
MF: What’s been your biggest life lesson?
TH: You have to embrace adversity. The setbacks that you encounter are actually learning experiences as opposed to things that should deter you. For instance, breaking my pelvis was definitely a learning experience that I got through. Something like that teaches me that I can persevere.
Check out Tony Hawk’s RIDE YouTube channel at youtube.com/ridechannel