Daewon Song: a natural-born skateboarding talent | Photo: Adidas Skateboarding

Born to soar on four wheels and a board, Daewon David Song's career as a professional skateboarder has been nothing short of spectacular.

He is widely recognized as one of the most innovative and influential skateboarders of his time, a title he has achieved through decades of dedication, perseverance, and an unyielding passion for his craft.

Song was born on February 19, 1975, in Seoul, South Korea.

However, the Korean metropolis's bustling cityscape wasn't his training ground.

Song's family emigrated to the United States when he was still a toddler, and it was in the suburban playgrounds of Gardena, California, where he first discovered skateboarding, following a year spent in Hawaii with his grandmother.

His childhood was far from easy.

His parents were perceived as "insane" by their neighbors due to their constant fighting, and Song's mother, who once shot her husband in the face, died in 1999, predeceasing his father.

In his early years, Song showed promise in arts, winning drawing contests and engaging in commercial art.

His parents initially expected him to pursue a career in this domain, but Song's life took a turn when his mother gave him his first skateboard when his parents divorced in 1988.

At the age of fourteen, he was drawn to the freedom and creativity of the sport and quickly immersed himself in the burgeoning Southern California skateboard scene.

Daewon Song: the South Korean-American started skating in Gardena, California | Photo: Song Archive

Mentored by Rodney Mullen

Song's talent was evident from the outset.

He possessed an uncanny ability to see urban landscapes in a way few others did, transforming ordinary objects into extraordinary skateboarding venues.

Daewon was soon the only skateboarder left in his school amidst a neighborhood plagued with gang activities and other challenges.

However, during this time, he was observed by legendary pro skater Rodney Mullen, who was impressed by Song's skills and wanted to send him skateboard decks.

"I was skating 135th Gardena, and I saw him there, and I think it's then when we exchanged numbers," Mullen once revealed.

"I don't think I deserve any credit for that at all. I just always believed in day one and saw what that guy had."

The moment marked the beginning of a relationship between Song and Mullen, who would eventually become co-owners of the Almost Skateboards company.

Mullen also served as a mentor to Song, and their connection led to Song becoming a team rider for the Tensor company.

Meanwhile, his skills caught the attention of World Industries, a prominent skateboarding company at the time, which sponsored Song at the tender age of sixteen.

This partnership marked the beginning of Song's professional career, a journey characterized by relentless innovation and mind-bending tricks. And that infamous "White Power" ad too.

By age 17, he had turned pro and was already making waves in the skateboarding scene.

White Power: the humorous ad by World Industries featuring Kareem Campbell, Daniel Castillo, and Daewon Song

Skater of the Year 2006

Over the years, Song has carved out a niche in the skateboarding world with his distinctive style and ability to pull off intricate technical tricks.

His talent on a skateboard has won not only him accolades but also a significant influence in the skateboarding world.

He was named Thrasher magazine's "Skater of the Year" in 2006, an honor that cements his place among the industry's elites.

He has also collected an impressive string of victories in skateboarding competitions, including multiple first-place finishes at the Tampa Pro in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

But for the man who doesn't change a board until the tail is a razor, skateboarding is not just about competitions and accolades; it's a lifestyle, a form of artistic expression.

It's this ethos that has driven his participation in numerous skateboard movies and videos over the years.

His appearances in the "Love Child" (1992) and the "Rodney Mullen vs. Daewon Song" series have left indelible marks on the skateboarding culture, showcasing his technical mastery and unique style.

For instance, his solo parts in the "Cheese and Crackers" (2006) mini ramp video alongside Chris Haslam are still talked about in awe within the skateboarding community.

More recently, his feature in the skateboarding documentary "Daewon" (2019) offered a comprehensive look at his career, influences, and enduring legacy in the sport.

Daewon Song: always getting technically tricky | Photo: Adidas Skateboarding

Commitment to Skateboarding

Throughout his career, Song has been closely associated with several major brands.

He co-founded Almost Skateboards with Rodney Mullen in 2003, a company that continues to push the boundaries of skateboard design and performance.

His collaboration with Adidas, culminating in the Daewon Song Signature Shoe, further attests to his influence in the industry.

The South Korean-American skater is a playable character in the "Grind Session," "Session: Skate Sim," and Tony Hawk's video game series.

Moreover, Song's Instagram - @daewon1song - with over a million followers, is a testament to his popularity, where he continues to inspire a new generation of skaters with his stunning stunts and endearing personality.

Beyond his personal achievements, Song's contributions to skateboarding transcend his career.

The versatile and agile rider has significantly shaped skateboarding culture, popularized technical and freestyle skating, and influenced a new generation of skaters.

Many see his approach to skateboarding - always playful, pushing boundaries, and never taking things too seriously - as a refreshing reminder of why they fell in love with the sport in the first place.

Daewon Song: making skateboarding smooth since the 1980s | Photo: Song Archive

Globally Influent

Song's journey has also been marked by resilience and adaptability.

Despite suffering numerous injuries, including a serious ankle injury that would have ended most professional careers, Song has shown an unwavering commitment to his craft.

The goofy-footed's ability to rebound and continue innovating has further solidified his status as an icon in the sport.

Looking back at his illustrious career, Daewon Song's impact on skateboarding is unmistakable.

From his early days in Gardena to his place at the top of the professional skateboarding world, Song's life is a testament to what can be achieved with passion, innovation, and a touch of daring.

The 5'7" tall rider embodies the spirit of skateboarding, a spirit that continues to inspire and influence generations of skateboarders around the world.

He skates in the rain, cuts his bushings, and loves Spitfire stickers. His son, Adonis, is his greatest creation and inspiration.

Daewon Song was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame (SHoF) in 2017.

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