BILLINGS — The world’s most popular skater, Tony Hawk, was in Billings on Thursday, speaking at the Billings Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
Some Billings skaters have had the opportunity to meet their idol.
“Growing up like I always looked up to Tony Hawk because he’s like this absolute legend who can do all this crazy stuff. He just inspires me to love getting out there and skating and trying new things,” Jace said. Kelley, 15, after breakfast at Billings Skate Park.
For Hawk, it was a chance to return to his roots.
“Actually, I have a background with Billings. Both of my parents are from here,” Hawk said.
As the breakfast keynote speaker, he spoke about his background and how he discovered skating.
“And I went to the skate park, and I literally saw people flying out of swimming pools, and my life changed,” Hawk said.
Hawk’s foundation, The SkatePark Project, helps build skateparks in underserved communities. He helped build over 900 skate parks nationwide, including three in Montana. Billings Skate Park opened in 2004.
“I feel like a lot of kids choose to skateboard, but a lot of them are told they can’t skate on public property,” Hawk said.
Grace Hagstrom, 16, has been skating for about a year now.
“Super inspiring, especially as a skater, because we don’t have that many in Billings,” Hagstrom said.
The sport has seen a surge in popularity during the pandemic.
“Skateboarding had a big boom during COVID, surprisingly, because people got together and wanted to learn a new skill, and skateboarding provided that because you could do it outside. You can also stay away from people, but do it together in a way,” Hawk said.
He had a message for people everywhere when it comes to following your dreams.
“My message is do what you love and believe in yourself, stay the course,” Hawk said.
And these skaters will never forget the day they met Tony Hawk.
“I actually asked him to autograph my wrist, and I went to Rise Again and had him tattooed on me,” said Zaine Saur, 29.
Watch the full interview below:
Skateboard icon Tony Hawk visits Billings