When Tony Hawk entered the professional skateboarding circuit in 1982 at the age of 14, few people in the world of extreme sports would have guessed he would become an icon; however, Hawk's decision to quit playing baseball -- which, considering his father's position as the president of his Little League chapter, was no easy choice -- ultimately landed Hawk at the top of the sport and allowed him to "retire" in 1999 at the ripe old age of 31. As Hawk rapidly gained credibility among his peers in the sport, he also received no small amount of attention from television and video producers. Interestingly enough, Hawk appeared as an extra (skateboarding, of course) in Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol in 1997; more importantly, however, his skill helped put the X Games into the mainstream. In addition to a wide variety of Hawk-inspired video games, the athlete has made countless appearances on ESPN and was featured in over 50 skateboarding documentaries and instructional titles during the '80s and '90s. Along the way, he became somewhat of a pop culture icon. MTV's Diary series featured Hawk as one of its subjects, and he was voted Best Male Athlete of the Year at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, beating out other famous sports figures including Tiger Woods and basketball star Shaquille O'Neal. In 2002, Hawk appeared alongside fellow skateboarder Bam Margera in Jackass: The Movie, and later that year could be seen in XXX with Vin Diesel. In 2004, Hawk hosted Tony Hawk's Secret Skatepark Tour, which chronicled his surprise appearances at skateparks throughout the United States.
Biography by Tracie Cooper
- Began his professional career at 14, joining the "Bones Brigade" team of Powell-Peralta Skateboards.
- Became known as "Birdman" among fellow skateboarders for his high-flying tricks.
- Established the skateboard company Birdhouse Projects in the early 1990s with fellow pro Per Welinder; founded Hawk Clothing, which manufactures clothes and skateboarding equipment and accessories, in 1998.
- His first skateboarding game, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, released in 1999 on the Sony PlayStation, spawned a long-running series that spanned several gaming consoles.
- Retired from pro skateboarding in 1999 after he pulled off the sport's first-ever "900," a trick that involves doing two-and-a-half rotations in midair. His pro record stood at 73 wins out of 103 competitions (he placed second in 19).
- Released his autobiography, Hawk: Occupation: Skateboarder, in 2000.
- Established the Tony Hawk Foundation, which helps build public skate parks in low-income communities, in 2002; co-founded Athletes for Hope, a non-profit organization that encourages sports philanthropy, in 2007.