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Hawk: Occupation: Skateboarder

Hawk: Occupation: Skateboarder

4.8 58
by Tony Hawk

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For Tony Hawk, it wasn't enough to skate for two decades, to invent more than eighty tricks, and to win more than twice as many professional contests as any other skater.It wasn't enough to knock himself unconscious more than ten times, fracture several ribs, break his elbow, knock out his teeth twice, compress the vertebrae in his back, pop his bursa sack,


For Tony Hawk, it wasn't enough to skate for two decades, to invent more than eighty tricks, and to win more than twice as many professional contests as any other skater.It wasn't enough to knock himself unconscious more than ten times, fracture several ribs, break his elbow, knock out his teeth twice, compress the vertebrae in his back, pop his bursa sack, get more than fifty stitches laced into his shins, rip apart the cartilage in his knee, bruise his tailbone, sprain his ankles, and tear his ligaments too many times to count.No.He had to land the 900. And after thirteen years of failed attempts, he nailed it. It had never been done before.

Growing up in Sierra Mesa, California, Tony was a hyperactive demon child with an I44 IQ. He threw tantrums, terrorized the nanny until she quit, exploded with rage whenever he lost a game; this was a kid who was expelled from preschool. When his brother, Steve, gave him a blue plastic hand-me-down skateboard and his father built a skate ramp in the driveway, Tony finally found his outlet--while skating, he could be as hard on himself as he was on everyone around him.

But it wasn't an easy ride to the top of the skating game. Fellow skaters mocked his skating style and dubbed him a circus skater. He was so skinny he had to wear elbow pads on his knees, and so light he had to ollie just to catch air off a ramp. He was so desperate to be accepted by young skating legends like Steve Caballero, Mike McGill, and Christian Hosoi that he ate gum from between Steve's toes. But a few years of determination and hard work paid off in multiple professional wins, and the skaters who once had mocked him were now trying to learn his tricks. Tony had created a new style of skating.

In Hawk Tony goes behind the scenes of competitions, demos, and movies and shares the less glamorous demands of being a skateboarder--from skating on Italian TV wearing see-through plastic shorts to doing a demo in Brazil after throwing up for five days straight from food poisoning. He's dealt with teammates who lit themselves and other subjects on fire, driving down a freeway as the dashboard of their van burned. He's gone through the unpredictable ride of the skateboard industry during which, in the span of a few years, his annual income shrank to what he had made in a single month and then rebounded into seven figures. But Tony's greatest difficulty was dealing with the loss of his number one fan and supporter--his dad, Frank Hawk.

With brutal honesty, Tony recalls the stories of love, loss, bad hairdos, embarrassing '80s clothes, and his determination that had shaped his life. As he takes a look back at his experiences with the skateboarding legends of the '70s, '80s, and '90s, including Stacy Peralta, Eddie Elguera, Lance Mountain, Mark Gonzalez, Bob Burnquist, and Colin Mckay, he tells the real history of skateboarding--and also what the future has in store for the sport and for him.



Editorial Reviews

Our Review
Soaring to New Heights
Like no other, skateboard legend Tony Hawk has soared to fame and acclaim in the "extreme sports" arena, coming back from hard-hitting slams and industry nosedives to retire on top at 32. Chosen by ESPN as 1999's Alternative Athlete of the Year, Hawk is greatly responsible for skateboarding's current, unprecedented resurgence. Hawk: Occupation: Skateboarder is his personal journey from childhood to manhood, from taunted schoolboy to celebrated champion.

Although he may seem rather young to be producing his memoirs, in the youthful world of skateboarding, Hawk is considered an old-timer. But the same competitive drive that led him to become skateboarding's most successful pro has also kept him on top of his game and unmatched in the contest arena for almost 20 years.

In so many ways, 1999 was a signature year for Hawk. His last as a competitor, 1999 was also the year Hawk landed "The 9" -- a 900-degree aerial spin -- long considered an impossible maneuver. Although broad television and media exposure had already made him a household name, Hawk was unprepared for the accolades and airtime he received for accomplishing The 9. The maneuver was captured by ESPN cameras at the annual X-Games contest, the footage was distributed widely, and the network later awarded Hawk its coveted ESPY prize for Alternative Athlete of the Year.

After two decades and innumerable titles, Hawk left skateboarding competition on a high note. Hawk is the story of his unlikely rise to prominence in what was an underground sport and of the sport's hard-fought quest for legitimacy. Much of the book deals with an undersized teen's inability to integrate into the non-skateboard culture of early '80s high school, when the sport was distinctly out of fashion: "I wore weird clothes, was obsessed with a 'loser' sport, and looked like I had gotten lost on my way to elementary school."

Growing up skinny, unpopular, and covered with scabs, Hawk had to overcome peer pressure and a scrawny physique to nurture his latent talent for rolling, grinding, and flying in the dying skate parks of southern California. Skaters were giving up the sport in droves, but Hawk and a handful of his peers were obsessed, stuck it out, and developed new, exciting styles of skating that eventually attracted a whole new generation of aerial acrobats, a few of whom -- like Hawk -- would attract sponsors and compete. He describes his professional debut: "To put early '80s skating into perspective, imagine being a professional Frisbee thrower today -- that's the equivalent of a pro skater 15 years ago. I skated the contest and placed third. There were at least 18 people in the stands. I didn't win any money."

From obscurity to fame, and back and forth, Hawk tracks this icon's thoughts and actions through an incredible career and some crazy episodes, like nearly dying from food poisoning in Brazil or refusing to wear a translucent costume for an Italian television appearance. Hawk also recounts emotional periods: from the heartache of losing his father, his biggest fan, to cancer -- "I went on tour never thinking that when I said good-bye to him it would be the last time I saw my dad alive." -- to the joy of developing a bestselling video game -- "The best part of the deal was getting to sit in front of the TV playing video games, and I was working."

The Year of The 9 -- known by some as A.D. 1999 -- was also the Year of the Hawk, as every major network and publication sought an audience with skateboarding's "unofficial ambassador." One journalist, a writer for The New Yorker, even joined Hawk on the road to immerse himself in the sweaty and exhausting life of the touring skateboarder. "He was a nice enough guy, a poetry teacher on the side," writes Hawk. "He could probably relate to skating better than most writers because poetry seems a bit on the subculture side of things, except you don't see 'No Poetry' signs everywhere you go. You know skating has become popular again when a stuffy magazine like The New Yorker (I always picture long-nosed aristocrats reading it in their spats) does an article on skating."

Hawk offers an insider's perspective on the world of skateboarding from someone who's seen and done it in all its phases and forms, a participant who's experienced the hardest slams -- "I don't remember everything that happened, except that I tried to put my hands in front of my face two seconds after my face punched the wall." -- and the realization of lifelong personal goals -- "After thirteen years of trying unsuccessfully to land The 9, all I could think was, finally!" Tony Hawk offers a detailed and insightful narrative that completely describes the evolution of a champion who chose a skateboard over more traditional sports but found fulfillment and fame in pursuing his passion nonetheless.

Miki Vuckovich is the editor of SKATEboarding Business magazine. He resides in southern California.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Demon Boy

I spot her head over the wooden guardrail and track the cloud of grandmotherly, curly white hair drifting past. I only see the top of her head, so I know she's across the room. She's probably heading into the kitchen to make me some food -- I have only a small window of opportunity before she's out of range. I have to act fast. No hesitation. I pull myself up, wobble a bit on my just-learning-to-walk legs, and pick up my red metal car. I lock the center of her aged shoulders in my crosshairs. She's turned her back on me -- fatal mistake. I couldn't have wished for more. I aim, cock my arm back, and fire. My red car shoots across the room and finds the target. My arm is pretty feeble. I don't nail her straight in the back, but I wing her on the hip. She squawks, grabs her hip, and turns to confront her assassin. I scowl back from my crib, my one-and-a-half-year-old attitude burning, meeting her sweetness head-on.

I don't know why I threw my toys at the sweet elderly baby-sitter who looked after me as an infant. She never took me behind the woodpile and beat me with a shaving strap. In fact, I don't remember her ever doing anything mean to me. I remember her being nice. Maybe she was just the perfect-sized target.

The thing that probably pulled my trigger was that she had power over me. She told me what to eat, and where to sit, when to wash, and decided when to exile me back to Stalag 17, my baby crib. After a few months of dealing with my target practice, she quit. She wasn't upset because of my wimpy ambushes, she just didn'tthink it was healthy that I was so angry. Had she continued baby-sitting, I think my life would have been a lot different. I might have been a professional baseball pitcher instead of a pro skater.

My general disposition didn't change once the nanny left. In fact, that was just a warm-up. I may not have thrown toys at my parents (my dad probably would have thrown them back), but I definitely participated in some serious parental abuse. Even now, I can't figure out why I was such a nightmare. I was born extremely high strung. A picture of me as a week-old infant shows my hands clenched into fists and a faint scowl on my face. I look like I'm ready to punch the photographer. If my sons, Riley and Spencer, ever acted like I did, I'd make my wife hold them down while I checked their heads for the number of the beast.

Punish Thy Parents

Making my parents' lives miserable was more difficult than it sounds. I was an accident; my mom was forty-three years old and my dad was forty-five when I popped out. Mom and Dad thought they were entering a nice, relaxing phase of their life when I interrupted. They lived comfortably in Serra Mesa, California; my sister Lenore was twenty-one, my sister Patricia was eighteen, and my brother Steve was twelve. My parents handled everything in their lives with a mixture of humor (dry and dark) and severe understatement. My party crashing was no exception. When my mom announced to the family that she was pregnant, she received a variety of responses.

"Well, Mother, some of my friends have had to tell their mothers that they were pregnant, but you're the first mom I know who's had to tell her twenty-one-year-old daughter she was expecting," Lenore said.

Pat looked at my dad, raised her eyebrows knowingly, and said, "Well...good old Dad."

Steve was a little more stressed. "But Mooooom, I really hadn't been planning on anything like this."

Mom looked at him, raising her Jack Nicholson-like eyebrows, and said that he wasn't the only one.

Birth and potential death were treated with identical humor in my family. One Friday night when my mom was five months into building me, my dad walked through the door holding his chest. He looked like he was trying to release a big belch, which he'd been known to do.

"Are you all right?" Mom asked.

"Well, either I have a bad case of indigestion, or I'm having a heart attack."

He was rushed to the hospital and into the emergency room. A heart specialist came in to examine him and told my dad he'd had a heart attack. He wasn't allowed to leave the hospital for two weeks. The doctors wouldn't even let him lift his arms, because the strain would be too much for his heart.

My mom, naturally, was concerned. One day she leaned over his bed and told him how much crap he'd be in if he died and left her knocked up. Afterward she started joking about it and telling friends my dad had had the heart attack the moment she told him she was pregnant. He felt much better when he returned home, but after two weeks in the hospital he'd lost his job as a salesman. This marked the beginning of his job jumping, which continued throughout the rest of his life. But as uncertain as situations became, my parents always made sure I had what I needed. I never realized how tight money had been back then until I was a teenager.

On May 12, 1968, 1 made my entrance into the world. When I came home from Sharp Hospital in San Diego, both my sisters were already off at college. My parents had worked hard raising their three kids, and all of them were pretty mild mannered until I made an appearance.

I rebelled more as an infant...

Hawk. Copyright © by Tony Hawk. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Tony Hawk is the bestselling author of Hawk: Occupation: Skateboarder. In the 1999 X Games, Tony landed the first 900 degree arial turn in skateboarding history. A stunt he had been working on for years. He has released three video games for playstation: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. He lives in Carlsbad, California, with his wife and three children.

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Hawk: Occupation: Skateboarder 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
Taylor Levesque More than 1 year ago
definately worth buying. Tony is a suprisingly adept author and can definately grab and hold onto a reader's attention. great book for even non-skaters.
adrienne_marie More than 1 year ago
he said he loves teh book and anyone that loves skateboarding should read it :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most people know Tony Hawk as one of the most popular extreme sports role models. Wgae people don't know is how hard it is to get to the point he is at today. I now know how it all started for Tony Hawk. Have you ever been sponsored and then suddendly got dropped and you weren't gettin anything for free anymore? The book starts off when he is 5 and got his first skateboard, to landing tricks, to his social life, to his marriage. Now I feel like Tony is my friend and understand how hard it is to be famous. I reccomend this book to all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Do you like humor, skateboarding, and autobiographies? If you do the book 'Tony Hawk Occupation Skateboarder', by Tony Hawk wit Sean Mortimer, is the perfect book for you. This book is one you have to read. Its packed with skateboarding, humor, information about the legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, and other things that make thin book one of a kind. Also in the book it tells about his contests, fun times, ups and downs, and alot more. Even if you dont skateboard you will still probably find this book very interesting. The book starts off by telling about Tony Hawk's younger life and how he started skateboarding. It also tells about his accomplishments, injuries, career, sponsores, how he changed skateboarding, and alot of other information that you will enjoy. Finally to tell about some of my favorite parts in the book. The first part i chose was on chapter one called 'Demon Boy'. In this chapter it tells about hoe Tony was when he was younger and how he started skateboarding. The second part I chose was on chapter three called 'The Bones Brigade'. This chapter tells how Tony made one of the worlds most well known skateboard teams and all the things he did while on the team. Finally the last part I chose was on chapter seven calles '1999, the year of the 9'. This chapter tells about the hardest trick Tony has ever done. The trick is a nine hundred degree spin that took tony years to master. In conclusion I think this is a great book. Its one that will make you want to keep reading and not stop. I strongly recomend you to read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(Should we just follow or should l make a distribution?)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Padded in, looking behind her to see if Quailfeather and Boldpaw were coming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hate it when little kids are at skateparks climbin all over the ramps like for real... go to a fckin park.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nobody cares if yur hot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book pretty awesome but some innapropriate parts id suggest for kids 12 and up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
#1, #4, and#P.P13
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You are not the only girl my name is sarah and it means princess but i am far from being any kind of princess YOU ROCK
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Are all of you boys?if yes i am a hot girl.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tony Hawk is a really good skateboarder and i think it will be a while before anybody like him comes around
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tony has swag but rondys da boss
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hes My Idol
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
6 star
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a great book. I learn a lot about Tony hawk.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No one is here.... but me and you...
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