The best-known action sportsman in history, Tony Hawk is a skateboarding legend. During his 20-year competitive career, he defied gravity with his outlandish tricks and became a role model to millions of young people around the world.
He was given his first skateboard at the age of nine, turned professional at 14 and by 16 was acknowledged as the best skateboarder in the world. Hawk won 12 World Championships, 13 X Games medals and invented over 80 tricks. He entered 103 professional contests, winning 73 of them and was second in 19.
His defining moment came on June 27, 1999 when he made skateboarding history at the X Games by performing a ‘900’ - the first ever seen in the sport. He had first attempted the trick, which requires two-and-a-half full rotations while flying through the air, ten years earlier and had been working on it ever since. It was his final target on a lengthy wish list of tricks, which included the Ollie 540, the Kickflip 540 and the Varial 720. He retired from competition in December 1999 and received ESPN's first Alternative Sports Performer of the Year ESPY award. He was also one of three nominees for the inaugural Laureus World Alternative Sportsperson of the Year Award in 2000.
Concurrent with Hawk's rise in popularity, skateboarding itself has evolved from a street pastime to a respected sport, requiring talent, discipline and training. He has a worldwide body of fans in the United States, Europe, Australia, Asia and South America and, although he no longer skates competitively, he makes regular exhibition tours and appears on television, videos and in computer games. His renown transcends traditional sporting arenas. He has twice been named Favourite Male Athlete at the Nickelodeon's Kid's Choice Awards - in 2001, when he beat Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Tiger Woods, and again in 2003.
With the creation of the Tony Hawk Foundation, he has also made an effort to give something back to the sport that has given him so much. Designed to promote and help finance public skateparks in low-income areas, the Foundation distributes funds to non-profit groups building skateparks throughout the United States.