Danny Way: the only skater to have flown over the Great Wall of China | Photo: ESPN

When you think about a skateboarder who has pushed the limits of the sport, it's inevitable to mention Danny Way.

He's never been obsessed with world records, even though they tend to get in his way.

Danny Way was born on April 15, 1974, in Portland, Oregon, and grew up in San Diego, California. His upbringing was overshadowed by a series of challenging events.

Tragically, Danny's father, Dennis Way, passed away when Danny was less than a year old.

Dennis, having been imprisoned due to unpaid child support to a former spouse, was found deceased in his cell after nine days, in what was determined to be a suicide.

In the years that followed, Danny, alongside his brother Damon, experienced further turmoil.

Their mother, Mary, entered relationships with several men who were abusive towards her and her sons.

Eventually, Mary remarried Tim O'Dea, who played a pivotal role in introducing Danny and Damon to the world of skateboarding and surfing.

However, this period of stability was short-lived as the marriage ended in divorce, and Tim O'Dea later passed away while surfing.

Danny's life faced another setback with the loss of his childhood mentor, Mike Ternasky.

Ternasky met an untimely end in a traffic accident caused by an elderly driver who ignored a stop sign.

Way is a father of three children - Tavin, Rumi, and Ryden - from his relationship with Kari.

Danny Way: he won his first professional vert skateboarding contest when he was just 15 | Photo: Way Archive

Pure Talent

In 1989, at 15 years of age, he became the youngest rider to win a professional vert skateboarding contest at a World Skateboard Association contest in Lansing, Michigan.

It was also the first televised skate event ever on ESPN, six years before the inaugural X Games.

Danny's first major video appearances were in Powell Peralta's "Public Domain" and H-Street Skateboards' "Shackle Me Not" and "Hokus Pokus."

In 1991, he co-founded Plan B alongside Mike Ternasky and won the Thrasher "Skater of the Year" award.

In 1997, he set the first of several world records for the biggest air ever on a skateboard at 16 feet, six inches (5.03 meters).

Way also acid-dropped out of a helicopter into a vert ramp. The stunt made the cover of Transworld Skateboarding.

In 2002, the skateboard set a new world record for the longest distance jump at 65 feet (20 meters) and broke his biggest air mark by taking it to 18 feet, 3 inches (5.66 meters).

One year later, the stunt skater surpassed his own previous record for the biggest air with an incredible mark of 23.5 feet (7.2 meters).

In 2004, Danny Way won his first gold medal at the X Games Big Air competition. He would clinch it again in 2005, 2006, and 2009.

In the same year, the skate improved his long-distance jump world record to 79 feet (24 meters) and locked in the second "Skater of the Year" award.

Throughout his career, Danny Way was sponsored by Plan B, Alien Workshop, DC Shoes, and Independent, among others.

Transworld Skateboarding, December 1997: Danny Way jumps off a helicopter into a vert ramp

Jumping Over the Great Wall of China

One of the standouts of his career took place in 2005 when Danny Way became the first skater to jump over the Great Wall of China.

At the time, it was the largest skate ramp ever constructed, split into two sections - the 65-foot (19.8 meters) tall, 60-degree steep take-off area and then the kicker that propelled Way into the open zone.

Despite recovering from a broken ankle sustained on the practice jump the day before, the rider was able to climb up the 57 stairs onto the ramp and drop into the abyss.

Way was still sore from the previous day's wipeout and injury.

But he knew China was watching, and there was a 1.5-million-dollar ramp that needed to see a return on investment.

So, the moment of truth arrived on Saturday, July 9, 2005.

On his first attempt, Way threw himself down the ramp and cleared the fortification gap but did not land on his board.

However, on his second drop, feeling more confident, the American skater dropped in, flew over the Great Wall of China, and successfully landed on his skateboard smoothly on the other side.

Danny did not hit the 38-foot (11.5 meters) quarterpipe ahead, so he went for a third attempt. This time, the skater cleared the gap with a 360 grab and once again failed the vert landing.

In the fourth run, the wind did not allow him to land the quarterpipe air.

Unfortunately, Way's injury was taking its toll, so after the fifth attempt, it was time to celebrate and thank the crowd on site and the 32 million Chinese watching the show at home.

"The skateboard is so much my home that it's weird - once I put my feet on my skateboard, it's like it flips the switch in my brain, and autopilot takes over," explained Danny Way.

"And I swear, I don't know what it is, but I feel like all these things release once I touch the grip tape on the board."

"I don't know what it is, but it's been like that forever. I've had other injuries that I could barely walk, but I could roll on my skateboard."

The Fender Stratocaster Bomb Drop

One year after the Chinese skateway, Danny was ready to pursue new, life-threatening stunts.

The first is no less intimidating.

On April 6, 2006, the Oregonian set a new world record by bomb-dropping 28 feet (8.5 meters) off the Fender Stratocaster sculpture at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas into a ramp.

In other words, it was 80 feet (24.3 meters) from the top of the guitar to the ground.

"This is not about world records," Way explained at the time.

"It's all about exploration, experimentation, and creativity, and it's all about proving to yourself that something that you envision is possible."

"It's always the most resilient thing to envision something and set out on a mission to build and accomplish something. To me, that's that's what what it's all about."

At the end of the year, he was nominated for Laureus Action Sportsperson of the Year.

Danny Way: the flying 25.5 feet up in the sky at a mega ramp built in a private ranch in the Cuyamaca Mountains | Photo: Monster Energy

Stunt Skater for Life

Danny Way has been a pioneer of extreme skateboarding and the mastermind behind the concept of the modern mega ramp.

His other stunts include, for instance, becoming the first skater to perform a rocket grab backflip - named El Camino - on a Mexican mega ramp.

On November 4, 2008, Rob Dyrdek towed Danny Way at 74 miles per hour to set a world record for the fastest land speed on a skateboard.

"Waiting for Lightning" is a 2012 documentary directed by Jacob Rosenberg on the pro skater's life and career.

On July 18, 2025, Way improved his world record for the biggest air in skate history.

At the mega ramp built in a private ranch in the Cuyamaca Mountains, east of San Diego, the skater flew 25.5 feet (7.7 meters) in the air, beating his own 2003 record by two feet.

Danny Way's Hawaiian Dream

"Danny Way's Hawaiian Dream" is one of the most popular downloadable content (DLC) of all time in skateboarding video games.

The skater's special add-on was made available for "Skate 3" and featured a giant riding arena with all the obstacles a gamer would dream of.

It included create-a-skater gear, new playable challenges, achievements, and trophies, and a new Danny Way playable character.

"Danny Way's Hawaiian Dream" also came loaded with skateparks, a mega ramp, and street circuits, all inspired by a Hawaiian tropical vibe.

The DLC was released for Xbox and PS3.

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