First things first, check out Ricky’s book. It has 5 out of 5 stars and is written by a fellow skater: https://www.amazon.com/Thank-You-Skateboarding-Ricky-Roberts/dp/0578626233/
Secondly, also check out his website and LinkedIn:
How long have you been skateboarding, or how long did you skate before you stopped?
I have been skateboarding since 1995. I skated at a pretty high level from 95 until about 2004. 2004 is when my first child was born, Mason. I had already dropped out of college at Temple (super sick skate spot, loved skating the campus) because I felt that was the wisest decision at the time and firmly believe that now given that I am still with my then-girlfriend and now wife, Chrissy.
I was feeling a little shell shocked during this time in my life having a kid at 22 when all I cared about was chilling with the homies, skating, and drinking. Chrissy was even younger at 21.
What I didn’t realize was my life was about to be flip turned upside down.
After Mason was born, we noticed that he was having what we thought to be seizures. We took him to one of the best Children’s Hospitals in the country, CHOP. After what I think was over a week in the hospital on barely any sleep not knowing whether my newborn had a life-threatening condition or not, we were finally given a diagnosis, Polymicrogyria.
I bring up this part of my life because it was the most pivotal, character-defining, and scary parts of it. I was lost for a little while knowing, in all likelihood, my son would never walk or talk. It was one of the few times in life where I felt numb and skateboarding wasn’t even on my mind. It was a very deep, heavy, and personal situation for me.
I had to make my next move.
From the jump, Mason’s condition didn’t change how I felt about parenthood. I knew that I was destined to have kids (3 to be exact, somehow I kinda knew that growing up). Additionally, my Dad rolled when I was 3 to start a new family, so I had a little bit of chip on my shoulder in regards to how I would parent. I never wanted a child of mine to have to deal with how it was for me being brought up.
So I Dadded up and got a job in South Philly at the Seafood Docks. I worked night work, so the ability to skate was really tough during these times, but I tried to kick around on the weekends until I thought that I wasn’t progressing and let the board collect dust for a little.
Being away from skateboarding honestly was killing me. I felt like an all-star high school quarterback that just sustained a career-ending injury and would never have the ability to see what coulda been. I was even dreaming about skateboarding but just felt that those days were over.
That feeling didn’t last long, however. I started to get back on the board more consistently around 2010. I realized I was struggling too greatly without skateboarding. It was at this point that I knew I had to get back into the scene, but do it my way this time, so I did. I made it less about me and more about others.
Now, here I am, pushing 40 and feeling like I am having a rebirth as a skater. This time around, I am more involved in the industry, but more importantly with giving back.
How were you first introduced to skateboarding?
Man, I was introduced to skateboarding, not unlike other street rats like myself – you just see someone cruising and maybe pop off a nice ollie. That’s all it took for me. Something about it was fucking magical. I was obsessed with all of it. Down to even the board itself.
Watching that ollie was so out of the ordinary and combined the athletic skills I already had but was at an individual level. I literally quit every sport I was playing to start skating. I’ll never forget that ollie and don’t want to give last names, but will give a huge thank you to Sean, Chris, Timmy, and Adam. Forever humbled and grateful to be introduced by these individuals.
What was your first board like, and how old were you when you got it?
My first board was a Nash that I bought for 5 bucks when I was around 13. I’m pretty sure it was missing a bearing and the wheel would fly off while I was riding it. It had black plastic trucks and was the new school shape, but boy was it a piece of shit!
I grew up in Philly not having money, so this was as good as it got until Christmas or a Birthday. So I just rocked that shit for a little while and tried to learn the basics on it stationary since the wheel flying off issue got worse over time.
What was the first trick you learned?
Definitely a shuv, followed up by an ollie. Learning the shuv was a pretty damn good feeling, but nothing matches getting those wheels off the ground with an ollie. Like so many other skaters say, it’s a memory that I will never forget.
What did it, or does it, feel like for you to be on a skateboard?
To me, skateboarding is a lot of feelings. First and foremost, I feel free. There is nothing like that half a second of your mind being focused on one thing and one thing only, doing a trick on a skateboard. I value this even more as a grown-up man child. It just contributes to my well-being.
I also feel uniquely creative while on the board. And, lastly, I feel love. Love whether it is the love for the energy that it provides me with individually or the even stronger energy that comes along with skating with the homies.
What are some of your favorite memories of skateboarding?
I’m gonna go bulleted list for this one:
- Running from cops
- Running from homeowners
- Running from priests, janitors, or anyone else that worked at St. Bartholomew’s
- Haters (There were plenty, skateboarding wasn’t cool back then)
- Whitehall Skatepark
- Downtown Philadelphia
- LOVE Park
- Watching pros skate
- Wawa Iced Tea with the homies
- Washington Township Skatepark
- Howell n’ Torresdale, Phila, PA
- The ability to have something to turn to when my life was at its lowest
How many of the friends that you have now did you meet through skateboarding?
95% probably, it’s the only circle of people outside of family and close friends that I care to be involved with.
How has skateboarding influenced your life?
Skateboarding is such a good metaphor for life. I once wrote an article for NationExtreme called something along the lines of “The 80/20 Perspective of Skateboarding”. It was about the fact that in skateboarding, we fail about 80% of the time or more. We sacrifice the 80% to bask in the glory of that 20% of the time we’re actually landing shit.
It’s a method that pushes us to push ourselves. Just like a powerlifter that somehow finds that next gear and beats their own record, a swimmer that puts up the fastest time, or in our case, a man like Brandon Turner at 39 puttin’ down a Switch Hardflip at Wallenberg for the 2020 Trick of the Year.
It’s the unwavering tenacity that skaters put forth that makes them a different kind of individual. An individual that thrives in failure just for that little tiny taste of success. Skateboarding influences me to be me at the highest level. It is more than a sport or an art, it acts as a life aid to me, a teacher of sorts.
It lets me thrive the way I want to thrive – on my own terms. I want to be the underdog, I want my life to be challenging, it’s literally all I know. I tell many people I speak to, I love a good challenge, and I love that that skateboarding can provide me with not only a great challenge while on the board, but a culture that I wouldn’t trade for the world.