Christian Hosoi: Rise Above

Scott SerlesCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2008

I have taken a recent sabbatical from Bleacher Report and writing in general for about a month now. 

Personal problems and the holidays are partly to blame, but the true reason for my absence (not that I was missed) is that I lacked inspiration from anything going on in the world of sports. 

Truth be told, I am a college football fanatic. I also enjoy the NFL and the NBA, but football season is over, and I live in St. Louis, which is far removed from the professional basketball universe, making it a bit more difficult to follow with the same unabashed enthusiasm as I enjoyed when I lived in California. 

A lot of my professional sports heroes—Michael Vick, Lenny Dykstra, etc.—have really been letting me down lately, sp I began to look outside of the four major sports for someone, something uplifting to raise my spirits and inspire me again to write interesting pieces that people may enjoy.  That is when I stumbled across the story of Christian Hosoi.

For those of you who are not familiar or too young to remember, Hosoi was an 80's skateboarding legend and main rival of today's face of the sports Tony Hawk. He was best known for his flamboyant style and "huge airs" that made vert-skating in the 80's so popular.

He was the epitome of California cool:  stylish, laid back, famous, and popular with the ladies.  In the 80s he reigned supreme in the world of skateboarding winning several competitions, with a plethora of sponsors and all the riches that came along with his success.

He began experimenting with drugs at an early age, often just weed and alcohol, but this soon turned into harder drugs and an addiction to crystal meth.  As popularity in vert skating in the early 90s waned and more of the focus in the industry was paid to a rawer form of the sport, called street skating, Hosoi's star was beginning to fade.  Although Hosoi's transistion to street skating was smoother than some of his 80s contemporaires, such as Gator Rogowski and Jeff Grosso.  Hosoi's drug intake was slowly taking it's toll on his psyche and his bank account.

With Tony Hawk leading the resurgence in skateboarding and action sports in the mid 90s and with the advent of the X-Games it would only seem reasonable that Hosoi would be one of the torch bearers and enjoy the acclaim as a skateboarding icon along with Hawk.

But, Hosoi was no where to be found.  His low-point came in 2000, when he was arrested in a Honolulu airport for trafficking crystal meth with the intent to distribute.  This was Chrsitian's third brush with the law and he received a five year sentence in federal prison.

While behind bars, Hosoi had an epiphany and with the help of his supportive girlfriend Jennifer, (now wife) he turned his life over to the lord. 

Soon after his imprisonment, the emergence of a "Free Christian Hosoi" campaign was adopted by many in the action sports community and some heavyweights in the music industry such as self-professed fans the Red Hot Chili Peppers who famously wore the "Free Hosoi" T-shirts in an awards show performance.

In 2004, Hosoi was released on parole for good behavior.  With the support of his family and many within the skateboading collective, Hosoi was able to continue to spread the word of his newfound faith without coming across too "preachy" and remain sincere even after he paid his debt to society.  Many other men and athletes, preach their faith but often come on to strong and discourage those in search for their higher power.  It remains a testament to the man, that he was able to transform himself so dramatically and still earn the respect of many of his peers.

Today, Hosoi enjoys the family life with his wife Jennifer and his two children Rhythm and Classic.  He also owns the skateboard company Hosoi Sk8boards and has a lucrative shoe deal with Vans.

This is a story of redemption, most of us deserve a second chance in life and it is what we do with this opportunity that helps build character and allows us to live a happy, more meaningful life.

Let's hope that the Maurice Claretts and Michael Vicks of the world can turn the poor choices they have made in life into a positive on down the road after they have paid their debt.