Tony Hawk: Life and Career of a Skateboarding Legend

He is undeniably the face of skateboarding. Tony Hawk is the most well-known skater ever to play the sport, and is also considered one of the most recognizable athletes in the United States. Hawk first used his skateboarding to burn off excess energy, but as a persistent and driven child he needed to excel. It didn’t take him long to do that: he turned pro at 14 and just two years later was the best around. After mastering one of the toughest tricks in the sport – the 900 – Hawk retired at the age of 31, and continues to promote skateboarding to the masses. In this video, learns more about the life and career of the legendary Tony Hawk.

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Biography: Skateboarding Legend Tony Hawk

This man is responsible for what is arguably the most epic moment in skateboarding history. Learn more about the life and career of Tony Hawk.

Early Life

Born May 12th, 1968 in San Diego, California, Anthony Frank Hawk was a gifted and restless child. At age nine he was given his first skateboard, and this helped the young Hawk get rid of excess energy. After winning a number of amateur contests around his home state, he turned pro at only 14-years-old.

Fast Rise to the Top

It didn’t take long for him to make his mark on the sport: just two years later he was already considered the best in the biz. He spent the rest of the 1980s skating around the world in contests and demonstrations. He also started a movie career: he was hired as a stuntman for Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. However he was let go because he didn’t look enough like the actor he was doubling, David Spade. He was featured as a skateboarder in the 1989 film Gleaming the Cube.

Financial Struggles and Birdhouse Projects

However, by 1991 the popularity of skateboarding dropped off significantly, and Hawk spent the next several years in financial turmoil. Despite the uncertainty of his sport’s future, Hawk decided to launch his own skateboard company called Birdhouse Projects in 1992.


He continued to struggle for the next few years, until 1995 when he competed in the first ever X-Games. This appearance made him the most well-known skateboarder in the world, and also put extreme sports and skateboarding on the map. Birdhouse succeeded as well, and these triumphs led the skater to start a children’s skate clothing company called Hawk Clothing.

Tony Hawk: Video Game Star

However, it was in 1999 that Tony Hawk really changed the face of skating. He partnered with Activision to produce the revolutionary Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game franchise, and that series has since produced numerous popular titles. Hawk even appears as a character in many of the games.

The 900

1999 was also the year he pulled off one of the toughest tricks in skateboarding, and the move he had been trying to perfect for ten years. In front of a crowd of his peers and a national TV audience at that year’s X Games, Tony Hawk landed a 900. This trick required him to spin 900 degrees, or two-and-a-half times in the air, and he was the first ever skateboarder to successfully land this trick in competition.


By this point, Tony Hawk had become a mainstream celebrity. However, after finally achieving the coveted 900, he retired from professional competition at the ripe old age of 31. That doesn’t mean this athlete slowed down: in 2002 he started the Boom Boom HuckJam tour to showcase skateboarding, BMX riding and freestyle motocross to the masses.

Mainstream Celebrity

He also began taking small parts in a number of films, including 2002’s xXx, Jackass: The Movie and 2005’s Lords of Dogtown. A number of books followed, and these included his New York Times bestselling autobiography Hawk: Occupation Skateboarder, a cookbook called X-Treme Cuisine, and How Did I Get Here: The Ascent of an Unlikely CEO.


Hawk has used his fame and wealth to help build a number of skate parks in low-income areas through the United States, through his Tony Hawk Foundation. He has also helped build the popularity of the sport through a number of instructional videos.

The Legendary: Tony Hawk

Hawk has been described as driven, persistent and original, and these traits are certainly seen in his skating. As one of the most recognizable athletes in America, there is no wonder he is known as the legendary: Tony Hawk.

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