Tony Hawk was one of the top skateboarders in the world by the time he was 16, and in his 17-year career, he won more than 70 skateboarding contests. Hawk started his own skateboarding company, BirdHouse, and also has a successful line of video games and skateboarding videos. Through the Tony Hawk Foundation, he provides grants and technical assistance for new parks, especially in low-income areas.
Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk was born on May 12, 1968, in San Diego, California. As a kid, Hawk was intelligent, high-strung, and hyperactive — a combination his mother once described as "challenging." When he was nine, he received a skateboard from his older brother. That gift changed his life and gave him an outlet for all of his energy.
It didn't take long for Hawk to excel at skateboarding. By the age of 12, he got his first sponsor, Dogtown skateboards. Two years later, he became a professional skateboarder. Hawk was considered one of the top skateboarders in the world by the time he was 16 years old. In his 17-year professional career, he won more than 70 skateboarding contests, including gold medals at the 1995 and 1997 X Games.
However, all of his talent and success could not prevent Hawk from experiencing some rough times in the early 1990s. At this time, the popularity of skateboarding was waning as were his earnings. He had already spent much of his early winnings and almost went bankrupt. He started a skateboarding company, BirdHouse, with Per Welinder, another pro skateboarder. Their company struggled until the rise of extreme sports generated new interest in skateboarding. Hawk competed in the first Extreme Games—later simply called X Games—in 1995. He landed back in the spotlight and became one of the best-known skateboarders in the world.
His ability to perform impressive stunts has helped fuel Hawk's popularity. He has created amazing tricks, including the "900." This trick calls for the skater to rotate 900 degrees —about two and a half turns — in mid-air. Hawk was the first to successfully complete this move in competition at the 1999 X Games. After this personal victory, he retired from competition. He still rides, gives skateboarding demonstrations, and devises new tricks-often at the custom-built ramp at his company's warehouse. Besides his skateboarding business, he has a successful line of video games, skateboarding videos, and a extreme sports tour called Tony Hawk's Boom Boom HuckJam, which he started in 2002. Hawk also hosts a weekly radio program on the Sirius XM satellite radio station.
In addition to running his various business ventures, Hawk has worked to help young people by creating more public skateboard parks. Through the Tony Hawk Foundation, he has provided grants and technical assistance for new parks, especially in low-income areas. The foundation holds special events as well.
In his personal life, Hawk was married to Cindy Dunbar from 1990 to 1994. They had a son, Riley, in 1992, who followed in his father's footsteps and became a professional skateboarder. After Hawk and Dunbar divorced in 1993, he married Erin Lee in 1996 and they had two sons Spencer, who was born in 1999, and Keegan, who was born in 2001. Hawk and Lee divorced in 2004, and Hawk married Lhotse Merriam in 2006. The couple welcomed a daughter, Kadence, in 2008. Hawk and Merriam divorced in 2011, and he married Catherine Goodman in 2015.
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