Ask any skateboarder on the planet who Ryan Sheckler is and you’re sure to get an out-of-this-world answer. A child prodigy turned professional skateboarder, world-renowned athlete, teenage heartthrob, business owner, charity founder and TV star has made his name synonymous with skateboarding. What this 19-year-old has already accomplished as a teenager, most could only dream of accomplishing in a lifetime.
Ryan’s amazing skills in the park and on the street have won the respect of pros old enough to be his father, while his big green eyes have attracted the adulation of girls too young to get a driver’s license. He’s a phenom in every sense of the word. Yet, the SoCal teen is focused like a laser beam on his future. “Shecks” wants to go down in the record books as one of the greatest skaters who ever lived—and he’s traveling the globe to make it happen.
BURSTING ONTO THE SCENE
Ryan Allen Sheckler (aka “Shecky,” aka “Shecks”) was born in La Palma, Calif., in 1989. He started rolling on a skateboard in his driveway at 18 months, and by the time he was 4, he could do ollies. At 7, he got a mini-ramp in the backyard and began skating every day.
Once his incredible talents began to take form, so began the travels of Ryan and his intrepid mom, Gretchen. Between 1999 and 2002, Ryan took multiple podiums on the Vans Warped Tour. He was runner-up and winner at the U.S. Open of Skateboarding (in front of a hometown San Clemente crowd), chalked up another California Amateur Skateboard League State Championship, and gave runner-up performances in the Gravity Games Amateur Challenge and the Best Trick Contest—against pros—at the Jockey Core Tour. All that in addition to strong finishes at the Globe World Cup, the Tampa Am, and the Slam City Jam.
THE ONLY WAY I WILL KNOW THAT I HAVE ACHIEVED LEGENDARY STATUS IS WHEN MY PEERS SAY I HAVE.
THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.
Then in 2003 he turned pro and busted out a season they’ll be talking about for years.
The 13-year-old’s plethora of accomplishments that year included second place at the Scandinavian Open, first place at the Slam City Jam, first place overall for the Vans Triple Crown Street competition, a gold medal at the Gravity Games, and, yes, that astonishing win in Street at the 2003 Summer X Games—where he was the only skater to land every trick he attempted.
From there, it was officially on. In 2005, Ryan was named the Action Sports Tour’s Athlete of the Year and overall Street Champion by the World Cup of Skateboarding. A year later, he was named both Skateboarder and Athlete of the Year at the Arby’s Action Sports Awards as well as the 2006 Action Sports Tour overall Park Champion. In 2007, Ryan made history by becoming the first skateboarder ever to win an AST Championship three years in a row; in 2008 he once again took home an X Games gold medal and first place at Thrasher magazine’s Bust or Bail contest, a win he cites as one of his greatest to date. All this, and we haven’t made one mention of his talents off the course.
It’s no secret that Ryan dominates the contest world, but his talents also hold up in the streets. After dropping two doubt-crushing video parts in Almost’s Round Three and Oakley’s Our Life, Ryan had the skateboard media salivating over his skills and a cover boy was born. At 17, he made the cover of the May 2007 issue of The Skateboard Mag. One year later, Ryan worthily graced their cover again and the same spot on Transworld SKATEboarding magazine, where he was interviewed for a second time.
Now one of the leading members on the Plan B skate team, Ryan recently dropped a heavy hammer of tricks in their promo video Superfuture, letting his skating once again speak loudly and clearly for itself. Although he’s earned the respect of even the most diehard street skaters, Ryan still has yet to fulfill his ultimate goal: Thrasher’s Skater of the Year. Many say it’s only a matter of time.
AN INTERNATIONAL STAR GIVING BACK
Between the media coverage and the contest winnings, Shecky’s popularity fuse had just been lit. But when his reality show, The Life of Ryan, premiered on MTV in 2007, his fame exploded into international stardom. Now in its third season, Ryan-mania is more contagious than ever. Whether he’s entering a contest or attending an industry event, a barrage of screaming girls—and signs reading, “I Love Ryan”—always follows.
Even with many successes under his belt, Ryan still keeps a humble remembrance of the road he traveled to get there and who helped him along the way. He recently launched the Sheckler Foundation, a charity organization that aims to enrich the lives of children and fund programs that aid the health of action sports athletes. And in a gesture of personal charity, Ryan put up his own Ranger Rover for auction this year to benefit the Children’s Cancer Research Fund. The deed raised almost $200,000 dollars.
With all his achievements in and outside of skateboarding, when—or how—will Sheckler know that he’s achieved his ultimate goal of being one of the greatest skaters ever? “I want to make a huge contribution to skateboarding,” he says after thinking for a moment. “The only way I will know that I have achieved legendary status is when my peers say I have. There is no other way.”