Tony Hawk rose to fame as a pro skateboarder before launching his own skateboarding company and a popular video game series.
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.
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 age 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.
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. As a result, in 1992, he co-founded a skateboarding company, Birdhouse, with fellow pro Per Welinder.
Their company struggled until the rise of extreme sports generated new interest in skateboarding. Hawk competed in the first Extreme Games — later simply called the 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 fueled 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.
In his 17-year professional career, he won more than 70 skateboarding contests, including gold medals at the 1995 and 1997 X Games.
Besides his skateboarding business, Hawk launched a successful line of video games, skateboarding videos and an extreme sports tour called Tony Hawk's Boom Boom HuckJam, which he started in 2002. Although the tour petered out by the end of the decade, Hawk announced he was reviving the Boom Boom HuckJam in 2019.
Hawk also began hosting his long-running Demolition Radio show on SiriusXM in 2004 and launched the RIDE Channel on YouTube in 2011.
Over the years, the skateboarding icon has appeared in movies like XXX (2002) and Lords of Dogtown (2005), as well as in TV programs like CSI: Miami and the reality competition series The Masked Singer. In 2019, he became a broadcaster for the Vans Park Series skateboarding tour.
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. Since 2002, the foundation has provided grants and technical assistance for new parks in all 50 states, especially in low-income areas.
Hawk was married to Cindy Dunbar from 1990 to 1993. They had a son, Riley, in 1992, who followed in his father's footsteps and became a professional skateboarder. Hawk then married Erin Lee in 1996 and had two more sons, Spencer (b. 1999) and Keegan (b. 2001).
After Hawk and Lee divorced in 2004, he married Lhotse Merriam in 2006 and welcomed a daughter, Kadence, in 2008. Following his divorce from Merriam in 2011, Hawk married Catherine Goodman in 2015.