DETROIT – Tony Hawk is known worldwide, not just for what he can do with a skateboard, but for his skateboard project that has given over $10 million to 600 skatepark projects, including right here in Detroit.
Local 4′s Victor Williams is a skateboard enthusiast himself. His tricks in a live shot got the pro skateboarders’ attention last year.
The two recently met up face to face at Chandler Park Skatepark.
Hawk wants skateboarders all over the world to have places to find themselves. That’s why he’s dropping in every now and then to the Motor City, specifically on Detroit’s east side.
“A big reason I even started our foundation is because I got very lucky that I live near one of the last remaining skate parks in the U.S., and it was never lost on me that I had a place to go,” said Hawk. “I had a sense of community. I had a place to develop my style, my identity. Not just in skating but as a person.”
Chandler Park Skatepark, in a way, is being shown as what a community can do with all the right tools.
“This is one of the examples of the parks we’re doing, and it really has helped us to expedite the process because our work is nationwide,” Hawk said.
Chandler Park Skatepark was conceived in big part thanks to his organization, The Skatepark Project, among many others.
“We have been partnered with Built To Play thanks to Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, and the focus is on Southeast Michigan,” Hawk said.
Unknown to most, skateboarding is a lifetime activity with various participants from countless backgrounds. But As Hawk explains, while recovering from a broken femur, getting older also has its limitations that create the need to adapt.
“It’s fun,” Hawk said. “It’s kind of been liberating to refocus my style on more tactical stuff and stuff that mostly skaters would appreciate and not, you know, it’s not moving the needle with the general public or anything, but I don’t really care, so I love it like I love my little coping dancers. That’s like, that’s my, you know, that’s my focus now, and it keeps me fired up.”
With age, certain tricks take a lot more work to land.
“I get the same feeling landings something of that nature that I did when I was a kid trying to learn a new trick, you know, that’s like, it’s like the dragon I’ve been chasing the whole time,” Hawk said.
Either way, meeting and skating with “The Birdman” in person was something reporter Victor Williams always dreamed of.
Others were also able to experience that same feeling like Kayden.
“It’s really cool just to be able to meet your idol and him living up to every expectation,” said Kayden. “He was super sweet. Signed my board.”
With Chandler Park Skatepark and even Riverside Skatepark in downtown Detroit, Hawk’s encouraging the younger generation to try something different while they’re impressionable.
“When I had some chance to affect change, that’s what I thought the best thing I could do is to actually provide more of those facilities to kids who feel disenfranchised and don’t feel like they belong in group sports,” Hawk said. “And I mean, that’s my proudest work, and also selfishly, I got more places to skate.”
Hawk’s skatepark project has donated money to help build 25 skateparks in Michigan.
Other Skate Parks are set to be constructed in North Detroit and several other suburbs soon.