Before I recieved Christian Hosoi‘s autobiography, I must admit I had never heard of him before. I had heard of his long time competition, Tony Hawk, more times than I could count, but I had never heard of what seemed to be the other side of Tony Hawk’s coin. Some say that Tony Hawk is the icon of skateboarding and Christian Hosoi is the legend. He is the pomp and circumstance of skateboarding. His story is like many in the entertainment industry: fame that came as quick as a shotgun blast because of his raw talent, followed by the sudden downward spiral to rock bottom due to being in the grips of addiction. Some unfortunately die at the mercy of the “fame monster”, others, like Hosoi, are blessed enough to crawl back on their two feet, get help, get sober, and therefore a second chance at life.
Christian Rosha Hosoi was born in Hawaii on October 5, 1967 to Ivan and Bonnie Hosoi. Ivan was a surfer who got into skateboarding (or “sidewalk surfing” as it was usually called then) with local kids by nailing metal roller skates onto two-by-fours. The family moved to Berkeley, California in the mid-70′s. Hosoi started street surfing at the age of 10. Christian’s experiences in LA caused him to turn skateboarding into a sort of performance art. Eventually Christian became the best vertical and aerial skateboarder in the world. Once he started professionally he became the Elvis of street surfing, and the scene belonged to Tony Hawk and “Christ”.
Christian was raised in a household where marijuana was not considered a drug, so it very easily became a gateway drug. He winds up in an abandoned bar where he tries meth for the first time. His father dies from cancer and Hosoi needs more and more meth to numb the pain. Days and weeks melt away like a snow cone in 100 degree heat. A scuffle with the police lands Hosoi in jail for possession. While he’s killing time and sobering up in jail, he decides to give his life and faith over to Jesus Christ. He tries to spread the Word to anyone willing to listen. He then decides to join forces with like-minded people (celebrity or not) to teach the gospel to the youth of America.
Hosoi is the phoenix that died only to be reborn in the midst of the ashes of his past. He can still amaze you with his talent, and I am sure he amazes himself that he could have walked through the valley of the shadow of death and come out of the other side a person with pure and virtuous purpose. His tale is a warning to all awakening young skaters: the Devil talks a good game and makes debauchery appealing, but all he cares about at the end of the day is collecting your soul. Christian pulled himself back from the precipice just in time, and for that, I, as a fan of skateboarding, am thankful.