Tony Hawk Takes Skateboarding to the Mainstream

Stacey MicklesCorrespondent IIDecember 17, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06:  Academy member Tony Hawk attends the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards at Central Hall Westminster on February 6, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images for Laureus)
Tom Dulat/Getty Images

Skateboard legend, activist, entrepreneur—those are only three ways to describe Tony Hawk.

Before Hawk came along, skateboarding wasn't considered a serious sport.  It was just a recreational sport, but because of the popularity of Hawk, "skateboarder" is part of the American mainstream.

Who would have thought that a shy kid from California would have such an impact on his sport, and the world.

When Hawk was a child, his parents thought something was wrong with him because of his hyperactivity. But in reality, nothing was wrong. In a test that was done on him, it was determined that Hawk had an IQ of 144.

Soon, Hawk would channel all his energy into skateboarding, which made him a legend and a multimillionaire. His legendary moves have earned him 14 medals (nine of them gold) at the X-Games for skateboarding.

His moves on the skateboard brought more interest to the sport, which was once thought of as a hobby slackers. Hawk would parlay his success in skateboarding to endorsements, video games and even amusement park rides.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, which was Hawk's first video game, started back in 1999.  It continues today and has led the Six Flags franchise to develop Tony Hawk's Big Spin, featured at several Six Flags locations across the country. 

Hawk has also made appearances in films and television as well.  But, perhaps his biggest contribution is his philanthropy. Hawk started his own foundation that builds skateboard parks around the country, and helps underprivileged kids.

To this point, the foundation has raised almost $4 million dollars. 

Hawk also started a foundation with other athletes called "Athletes for Hope," which is an organization that encourages athletes, as well was others, to volunteer in their communities. Athletes like tennis great Andre Agassi, boxing legend Mohammad Ali and baseball hall of famer Cal Ripken Jr. are all part of this organization.

Hawk's vision and kindness have lit a path for not only him, but for others like him who were encouraged by Hawk's story to follow their dreams and make a way for themselves.