The Story of Tony Alva

September 21, 2020 | Skateboarding
Tony Alva: one of the most influential skateboarders of the 20th century | Photo: Wynn Miller

He wanted to be number one, and he became number one. Here's the story of Tony Alva, the skateboarder that always knew how to reinvent himself.

Tony Alva was born on September 2, 1957, in Santa Monica, California, to Mexican-American and Dutch parents.

He started skating at six years of age and quickly became one of the first stars of the sport.

"The Tony Alva Story" is a 54-minute long documentary about the oldest professional skateboarder on the planet.

It was written and directed by Rick Charnoski and Coan "Buddy" Nichols, and inspired and powered by Jeff Grosso's "Loveletters to Skateboarding."

Hailed as the godfather of modern-day skateboarding, TA was a key figure in the evolution of the sport in the 1970s and 1980s.

Alva invented the frontside air on a pool and was one of the members of the legendary Z-Boys.

In his early days, the talented skater with a signature hairstyle was an extreme character - a symbol of skateboarding's punk attitude, fueled by boldness.

A Skateboarding Talent

Alva drew a line between skateboarding as a counter and pop culture.

He was a cut above the rest and started shining when surf skating became the ultimate sensation.

Tony Alva did slalom, freestyle, barrel jumps, downhill. He was a rock star and an inspiring sidewalk surfer for his generation.

With an aggressive personality that blended technical skills with creativity and spontaneity, the "Mad Dog" was a skate photographer's dream.

Alva Skateboards: Tony Alva always made sure his skateboards felt like surfboards

He had the best combination of surfing and skating with an aggressive style.

Alva's rise to stardom involved brands, companies, marketing stunts, innovative advertising campaigns, and unexpected endorsements.

The punk rock skateboarder controlled the design of his decks and made sure his skateboards felt like surfboards.

After all, he was a passionate surfer, too.

Tony made the cover of magazines, flew the world, destroyed hotel rooms, and signed hundreds of autographs.

While he was on top of his game, Alva influenced hundreds of thousands of skateboarding fans who sought to mimic his style and attitude.

The Comeback

Eventually, Alva and his crew suffered the consequences of their lifestyle choices and behaviors.

Partying, fame, and money led to darker times. Alcohol, weed, chemicals, LSD nearly killed him.

In 2006, TA hit rock bottom and decided to get sober and clean.

Since then, his mindset changed dramatically, and Alva figured out a way to evolve and drive his inspirational power in a positive way.

The brand "Alva" also stood the test of time, and at 62 years old, Alva is still dropping into bowls, drawing beautiful lines on private pools, and mixing old school moves with street skating.

Alva surfs, skates, plays music, acts, and signs autographs.

The skateboarding world is thankful for that and looks up to him.

"The Tony Alva Story" is the ultimate documentary about a man who changed skateboarding - and skateboarders - forever.

"I competed with the sun for the center of the universe - 'no más.' I'm not living that way anymore," underlines Alva.

"I refuse to go back to that style of selfishness and self-centeredness in living. I don't want to be that guy anymore. I want to be the guy that evolved to where we're at now."

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