David Hackett’s life reads like a Hollywood script, and as soon as he rolled his way into our lives at Growing Bolder, we were hooked on his passion for life.
A surfer turned skateboarding pioneer and icon, Hackett was a world champion at 15. He was 20 when his brother murdered their mother in the kitchen of their family home. Hackett spent the next 20 years as one of his sports top professional riders all while battling a drug and alcohol addiction.
After getting sober, he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and cured himself with lifestyle modification. Happily married and totally drug and alcohol free, “Hackman” became a highly sought after addiction recovery guru, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, award-winning graphic and product designer, brand ambassador, and fine artist. Through it all, he has continued to ride his skateboard, win world championships and redefine skateboarding as a sport for life.
A couple years ago, Growing Bolder’s Marc Middleton traveled to California to meet Hackett at his home and shared his incredible life story in this Growing Bolder mini-doc:
After producing that story, Growing Bolder has continued to follow Hackett’s career and his impact on his sport. Recently, Marc began to wonder how Hackett could not yet be in the Skateboarding Hall of Fame and wrote the following open letter:
An Open Letter to Skateboarders, Skateboard Fans, Skateboard Companies, Skateboard Historians, and Skateboard Media.
I am writing this as an outsider who has, on occasion, been granted an inside look at your great sport although from my observations skateboarding is far more than just a sport. It’s a lifestyle — a statement about life in general and the way that we choose to live it.
At Growing Bolder, we use our national TV show, radio program, magazine, and social platform to rebrand aging from a time of loss and limitation to a time of passion, purpose, and possibility. We actively seek out men and women who are smashing the stereotypes of age and providing a powerful example for the rest of us about how to remain active, engaged and relevant. This is, I believe, a mission of great importance because our culture wants us to believe that beyond a certain age, life is barely worth living, risk-taking is foolish and the passions of our youth should remain only in our memories.
It’s this quest that led us to David Hackett. As you know, David is a skateboarding icon and one of the world’s oldest professional skateboarders. He’s also one of the most important; a true pioneer, a legendary rider, and a living link to an era that changed skateboarding forever. Amazingly, he still rides with the style that made him famous, he still throws the aerials and vertical moves that he helped invent.
While skateboarding has evolved into a big-money sport filled with dedicated athletes, it’s future was written in the early 70s by a group of kids who took their radical surfing moves to the streets and broke into backyard swimming pools in Southern California to express their creativity and redefine what was possible. A photo of Hackett in an empty pool performing his trademark move, the “Hackett Slash,” is one of the most iconic images in skateboarding history.
At just 15, Hackett won the 1975 Hang Ten World Championships. At 18, he took the US Open Bowl and Pool Riding championship and the following year, he starred in the first-ever action sports TV program with overall world champion Tony Alva. He’s appeared on the cover of every major skateboarding magazine, and 40 years later he is still competing and still winning major championships.
Despite these accomplishments, I was surprised to learn that Hackett is not yet in the Skateboarding Hall of Fame which is my motivation for writing this letter. Before I go any further, let me say that David had no idea that I was writing this and I suspect that if he did, he would have asked me not to. He’s a proud but humble man who believes that his accomplishments should speak for themselves.
Perhaps the reason Hackett is not yet in the Skateboarding Hall of Fame is that his impact has reached far beyond a single decade. I will admit to not fully understanding the rules that are used to determine nominees or inductees but from what I can ascertain, nominees are made according to an “era” in which they were most relevant (i.e. the 70s or 80s.) To say that Hackett’s contributions to the sport were limited to the 70s would be a tremendous disservice to Hackett and to the sport itself.
Like many from his era, Dave developed both drug and alcohol dependencies that he battled for two decades. In his mid-30s, he finally got sober and while he’s never looked back, he’s committed himself to giving back. He’s become a renowned drug counselor and recovery guru who helps young men find their way back to sobriety. Skateboarding is one of the novel therapeutic tools that he uses in a proprietary program that has a 100% success rate.
He’s become an award-winning fine artist and graphic designer who has created skateboard graphics for himself and many other legendary riders. He’s a motivational speaker who has become a powerful and positive ambassador for skateboarding.
He’s a cancer survivor who refused chemotherapy and radiation treatment and cured himself with lifestyle modification. His most effective “treatment” was the enjoyment found on his skateboard. He now inspires all around him to pursue a healthy and active lifestyle and to keep a positive outlook in the face of the many life challenges that we all will continue to encounter as we age.
Why does David Hackett belong in the Skateboarding Hall of Fame? His accomplishments on the back of a board in the 1970s are worthy enough but it’s what else he’s done and continues to do for the sport that is equally noteworthy.
With all due respect to today’s great skateboarders, Hackett is, in my mind, the most influential skateboarder alive. Perhaps more than any skateboarder in history he’s leveraging the success that he had decades ago to positively impact the sport at a grassroots level today. He is almost singlehandedly redefining skateboarding as a sport for life.
David Hackett is a force of nature and his nature, at its core, is all about skateboarding. As worthy as his accomplishments in the 70s are, his reach and impact transcend not just any particular era but also the sport itself. On our media platform alone, he’s inspired millions to believe that it’s never too late to make the rest of your life the best of your life – no matter what challenges you might be facing. He’s using his love of skateboarding to change the lives of millions who have no desire to skateboard themselves. What’s more worthy than that? Dave Hackett has earned a place of honor in the Skateboarding Hall of Fame.
BREAKING NEWS: David Hackett has been been named one of the nominees for the class of 2018 Skateboarding Hall of Fame! We wish him continued good luck on this journey! GO HACKMAN!
You can learn even more about David Hackett’s incredible life in our Growing Bolder Magazine cover story: On the Edge and In the Moment. Click here to read the article.