Tony Hawk soars to crowd’s delight

Extreme Sports
Hawk Soars To Crowd’s Delight
Skateboarding Legend Tony Hawk, 34, Wowed Fans In Two Shows At Citywalk.
January 12, 2003 | By Ryan Clark, Sentinel Staff Writer

The first thing you notice is how much bigger Tony Hawk seems — in size, but even more so in presence.
He grinds and bails, takes spills and draws applause bigger than any other performer.
Because when Hawk skates, he soars. Kind of like a hawk.
He entranced two sold-out crowds Saturday at the third-annual Tony Hawk’s Skate Bash at Universal CityWalk, taking to the air with the best of his younger counterparts.

“I’m still having so much fun,” said the 34-year-old Hawk, a 22-year veteran of the sport. “It’s just so crazy. I never thought that I could be doing this for a living.”
Instead, the money    he’s made skateboarding has ensured that his grandkids’ grandkids will go to
college, and now he’s generating money for the Tony Hawk Foundation, which promotes the construction of public skate parks across America.
All of the proceeds from the two shows benefit the foundation.
“We hope that people come away from this exhibition with the inspiration that you really can do anything,” Hawk said. “You can even skate if you want to, and make a living at it.”
And you can become famous, too.
On a day when the NFL playoffs kept many fans at home in front of the television, Hawk drew several hundred fans to both shows.
Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon was there, as was PGA golfer Mark O’Meara. Both brought their children to see the skating legend.
Many of the fans in the crowd were youngsters, and they filled the afternoon with “Ohhhs” and “Aahhs” as the athletes cut through the air.
Ryan Short, 11, and Aaron Miller, 13, arrived 90 minutes early. Both wore their official Tony Hawk T- shirts.
“When Tony started doing his tricks, it was awesome,” said Ryan, who started skateboarding two years ago after seeing Hawk on television.
Aaron has been skateboarding for 10 years.
“I’ve seen Tony before — I was here last year,” Aaron said. “But he just keeps getting better.”
But Hawk almost never became a skateboarding legend.
Until he was 11, Hawk played baseball, and his father managed his Little League team. It was then that Hawk made his first career move.
Hawk did not perform his most well-known trick, the 900, which involves spinning 21/2 times in the air, because he said his ramp was too narrow.
“I need at least a 32-foot wide ramp,” Hawk said. “The ramp we’re using is 24-feet wide. I’ve almost fallen off of it already.”

But the crowd was not disappointed, and even saved some applause for the other athletes.
Fellow skateboarder Lincoln Ueda challenged Hawk for the most praise, as fans were awed by the height Ueda reached on his jumps.
Ueda, 28, from Brazil, is a veteran of several of Hawk’s tours. “This is a wonderful event,” Ueda said. “And a wonderful place to have it.” Hawk agreed.
“This is a sport, as well as an art,” Hawk said. “It used to be known as the rebellious hobby. But now, there is so much artistic expression in it. And to have the people of this city accept it, as well as all our fans across the country accepting it, it just makes us all proud.”
A soaring kind of pride.