One recurring storyline in the history of professional skateboarding is the rise of the underdog. There are so many examples of pros overcoming adversity early in life and using skateboarding to build a better life for themselves. South African pro-skater Thalente Biyela is a recent example.
This unexpected rise to the top has carried over into action sport brands as well with several of our favorite brands showing the same grit and determination to overcome obstacles and come out on top.
Here are four of our favorite stories:
1. Diamond in the Rough
Nick Diamond probably was never considered "most likely to succeed" by his high school classmates as he admittedly skipped class most days to skate and drink 40s in the Embarcadero neighborhood of his native San Francisco.
Nick knew he wanted his own company but was unsure where to start. He pondered this question while looking over a skateboard while a friend drove him around San Francisco and as Nick shared in a 2012 interview with Hyperbeast,
"Next thing you know we had this idea about making these bolts that would have two allen keys, one for the screw and then an allen key hole for the actual nut. I was like “fuck man, I’m gonna make these.” He was going to do it with me, but then he got his girlfriend pregnant and moved out to like Tahoe or something. I just never really heard from him again. It took me a few years to develop this bolt, but that was it."
Nick later branched out into shirts and hats and Diamond Supply Co. was born.
2. A Little Faith Can Be the Best Investment
If you know anything about DGK founder Stevie Williams you know he has a crazy story, which includes being homeless as a teenager and hitchhiking from Phily to San Francisco at the age of 15.
Stevie was always successful as a pro skater but he realized the true extent of his talent after being confronted by "a good friend" (presumably Josh Kalis) after Stevie was caught stealing from the friend. The friend told Stevie to give back what was stolen and they would give him however much money he needed because "they believed in him."
Stevie used this as turning point in his life and turned his focus to his career and business ventures. Now it is DGK all day and he is getting interviewed by the Wall Street Journal.
3. Not Sure How the Music Turned Out
Jonas Bevacqua and Robert Wright met while Bevacqua was DJing at an Orange County club. The two got together to make music as Wright was an MC and Bevacqua a DJ and producer.
While working on the music the two came up with the idea of unifying all areas of action sports under one brand, where as at the time brands tended to cater to only one sport. Wright was all ready working as a designer for Quicksilver and Bevacqua had a logo and some ideas and the duo changed their focus from beats to Lifted Research Group.
LRG has, of course, always remained true to their hip hop beginnings by helping to support new artists and break acts like the Roots and Kendrick Lamar, to name a few.
4. Uh, You Are Going Where?
In a move planned as a deliberate "fuck you" to what they viewed as the status quo of boring skateboard companies, Neil Blender, Chris Carter, and Mike Hill moved from California to Dayton, Ohio to start Alien Workshop in 1990.
At that time the skateboard industry's core was located in California so everyone else was heading West, but so what, Alien Workshop got the last laugh in a twenty three year run that gave us some of the most iconic decks and introduced us to Dayton native Rob Dyrdek.
Do you know any cool stories about the origin of your favorite brand, if so please share with us in the comment section below!