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Rodney Mullen

Rodney Mullen is easily the BEST skater in the world, he does technical freestyle tricks like no tommorow, I like one of his videos, Rodney Mullen vs. Daewon Song that has some good freestyle in it. Mullen is 36 yrs old and still an awesome skater, hes invented most of the tricks we do today, like: Kickflip, Heelflip, Casper... But anyway, here's the life of Rodney Mullen from his own words::: I see myself as a Linus, carrying a skateboard around like some kind of security blanket. In a way, my skating has been my only real possession. Now that Iím older, I have a car, a stereo, a bank account - more than what I need. Yet I canít say Iíve actually ďearnedĒ the stuff I have. Itís been given to me, in a way. My friends make fun of me. The bastards call me a mattress stuffer, a miser. But I have a hard time justifying fancy things when I havenít done anything that merits them. I just do what I love to do - skate. It has been the only thing Iíve ever really had of any real value. This is how I got started: I wanted to skate, but my father wouldnít let me. It was always strict around the Mullen household. My dad was a doctor and a multimillionaire. Of course I love my father, but Iíve always feared him first, everyone did. He hated skateboarding mostly because of the injuries. He also thought Iíd turn into a bum if I hung around that crowd too long. Whenever I mentioned skating, I was afraid he would see it as crossing him. Every kid hears this: ďNo means no, so quit asking.Ē I was about to reach that point. Finally, late on a New Yearís Eve, I asked him again. Before answering, he told me a story that haunted me all those years of competing. He said that I would be like the short kid across the street who played basketball day and night: No matter how hard I tried, Iíd never be any good. Then he reluctantly made me a deal: The first injury I got, or the first time he caught me without pads, I had to quit. I started skating New Yearís Day 1977. I got good fast. Inland Surf Shop sponsored me after about nine months. They tricked me into entering my first contest. I won. The first time I saw real pros was at the 1978 Kona contest. I was doing a handstand and Stacy Peralta plowed into me. He picked me up and said he was sorry and skated away. I got Stacyís autograph and got sponsored by Walker that very day. The next summer I went to the Oceanside nationals in California. That was the first contact I had with good freestylers. I won that one, too. Steve Rocco judged me. After the contest I watched him skate from the bleachers. Steve was way ahead of all the other pros. I watched him and wondered what it would feel like to be so much better than the rest. I was too chicken to get his autograph. When I came home to Florida, my father said I had proved I was best at something, and now I should move on. Though I knew Iíd have to quit, I skated harder that year, like sprinting for some finish line. Only it wasnít a ribbon; it was a wall. Skating hadnít formally been taken from me, so I tried harder with a sort of desperation. Powell-Peralta started flowing me boards that spring. My friend Barry Zaritzky coached me, making me do my runs over and over without watching my board. I had to run backwards for a half mile before I skated. The idea was to prove I didnít need my eyes. By spring 1988, I figured out rail flips, caspers, and helipops. I heard about the San Diego contest scheduled for August 20th. Barry kept telling me I could win, and if my parents wouldnít send me, he would sell some of his stuff and buy me a ticket to California. Then my father told me my skating would have to end by the time school started in September. Thatís when I gave up hope. All that work... Finally, Stacy himself called and gave me the formal invitation to come out to California, and my father saw it was important enough to send me as ďa last fling.Ē So I flew out the day after my 13th birthday to compete one last time. Everyone said it would boil down to me versus Rocco. It did. I still donít know if I really beat Steve. Maybe they gave me little kid points. But I won - the only freestyler who wore complete pads. That day my life turned a corner. I was formally on Powell-Peralta. My father said he would let me continue because magazines started to call, and companies were putting money into me. Suddenly I was somebody. Things started to blur after a while. I won contest after contest - around 35 or 40 of them. But every time I won, I developed a bigger fear of losing. People would make jokes about how easy it must have been for me to win. My father would chuckle and tell me not to bother coming home if I ever lost. Theyí d all laugh, and I would cringe. Judges would tell me how bored everyone was because they never saw anyone beat me; one told me he was waiting for that one slip, so he could give someone else a chance. My fear grew until Iíd go out and just do enough to make sure no one else would top my run. No more, no less. It was like I had a big empty castle that I could never actually live in because I had to stand out front and guard. Not only had the sensation of winning gone but the whole thing tasted sour. After every contest, people came up to shake my hand and pat me on the back, and I felt like a fraud. Those rich guys who get to the top, they blow themselves away - I know that feeling. By that time, I was 16 or 17. I funeled all my energy for so long into one goal, had gotten there, and was bummed. I was at odds with my family for the sport Iíve chosen. Since I had gotten some fame, I started to struggle with the realization that people whom I had never met expected things from me. That somehow I wasní t ďone of themĒ anymore. The girls I met were more interested in what it was like to be in magazines than anything else. It was like being caught in some expensive trap that I had paid for, and I couldnít get out. My first goal was to win a contest. I got that. Then I wanted to see my name on a sticker, a shirt, a board - I got all of that. Each time I thought I got somewhere else, I realized I hadnít gone anywhere. I finally decided my goal was to dominate freestyle for a complete decade. The very word ďdecadeĒ sounded awesome. Finally, I remember walking around after my last contest in San Francisco, dazed. Ten years of domination! The Mullen decade! Still, nothing. Nothing happened. Nobody cared but Barry, so I took him to dinner. Thatís about all there was to it. I threw or gave away almost every trophy they handed me. That was the point when I was about to give it all up - the public side of my skating, I mean. That was in í91 or í92. Then Mike Ternasky came into the picture. Before I get into the present, there is another time worth mentioning. Again, in winter í83 or í84, my father told me my skating would end when school started. Time to grow up and go to college... I remember telling that to Stacy. Things seemed hopeless. Then I lost the only pro contest of my career that spring. I was going to go out a loser. That woke me up. When the Del Mar finals came in August, everybody seemed to know it was my last contest. The magazines printed it as my retirement. I remember making it through the last few tricks of my final run, knowing I was going to win. Usually I would kind of black-out during contests. Once I remember having to ask someone how my run went when I walked off the course. But this time I just wanted to remember, I guess. So when it was all over, I went home and put everything from that trip into a shoe box. Weeks passed. Every now and then Iíd stand on a board and try something. I was losing it. I was watching myself decay. I guess my father was watching me decay, too. I donít know exactly what made him change his mind. I think Fausto helped. But my father finally told me I was allowed to skate again, and a year later I could compete. That whole ordeal taught me a lot. My skating was everything to me, and when it was taken away, I collapsed. Like these old married couples: when one dies the other soon follows. I always hated those rotten old men who got drunk and bored their wives about what heroes they were back in the good old days; they had never done anything with their lives. But I was wrong. That sense of accomplishment you get whenever you push your limits is sort of universal craving... The existential needs fulfilled by climbing the rungs of progression are the same for everyone, no matter how talented you may be or how prestigeous your sport. You donít have to be Tyson to feel like a champion. But Tyson may not feel like a winner, even when everyone else thinks he is; only he knows. Nobody can give you that feeling. You have to earn it. Skating blew up from around í86 to í91. I felt like a rock star during those times. I had agents that got me contracts doing all kinds of stuff. I flew on a Concorde. I rode in limos and had to be ďprotectedĒ by security guards. I did demos with Dr J and all kinds of athletes. I did Broadway shows with dancers and spotlights. I skated on stage with rock stars and comedians and runaway models. I was in movies, music videos, and on talk shows. I did a lot. Those were fun years. But sometimes money and fame are the harderst tests of what people really are. Itís easy to lose touch with yourself. A couple of my friends got lost in that fame. I got to be famous enough to realize that anonymity is priceless in every sense. Anyway, after winning my last San Francisco contest, I told myself that my public skating career was over. I was tired. Thatís when Mike Ternasky started coming around. Mike made a bet with Rocco that he could get me into skating street - just like Trading Places. So Mike talked me into riding for Plan B when I was at a point where I didnít feel part of anything anymore. He pushed me like no one really had since my friend Barry, and he did it at a time when I needed it most. Questionable was the first attempt at ďstreet skatingĒ I really made. I kept getting in trouble with him because I would put the plastic skid plates back on my board to make me feel at home again. Mike was one of the most giving people Iíve ever met. To me he was an example of someone who really found God. Like I said, Iím Linus; my skating is still right here. Iím not at all what I once was. Itís humbling where I am today. Old dogs, new tricks... But Iím happy, and I like where I am. I have a lot of real friends in skateboarding. I have good memories. And I still enjoy skating. I donít know how long this will last. I am definitely aging. Everyone wonders what theyíll be like when they get older. Every now and then, I get visions of being this pigeon-toed old men with a pack of pens in his chest pocket - some kind of scientist, I imagine. One day I want to become a physicist or an inventor, I suppose. That could be inside me, too. But for now, Iíll just keep going as long as I can. -Rodney Mullen-