Skateboard Calmed Him Down
Hawk found an outlet for his hyperactivity in a skateboard that his brother gave him when he was nine years old. He became obsessed with his narrow Bahne board, and quickly became proficient riding it. Finding something he was good at calmed him down, which his mother appreciated. Still, his perfectionist nature plagued him once he started competing in 1980. Even if he won, he would banish himself to his room with his cat, Zorro, if he felt he had not skated his best. He was sponsored by the Dogtown skateboard company at age twelve, placing second overall in his first contest, and continuing to compete respectably.
Both of Hawk's parents were supportive of their son's athletic passion. His father was a regular part of Hawk's skateboarding life, driving Tony all over California to various skateboard competitions, and building countless skate ramps over the years. Frank Hawk founded the California Amateur Skateboard League in 1980 and the National Skateboarding Association (NSA) in 1983. The NSA organized many high-profile
skateboarding competitions and was a key factor in the resurgence of skate culture that took place in the 1980s.
Before his thirteenth birthday, Hawk was approached by skateboarding legend Stacy Peralta to ride for his Powell & Peralta skateboarding company. His Bones Brigade team dominated the sport for a decade, and Hawk skated for Powell until 1994. Peralta handpicked Hawk, as he had numerous other skaters who went on to superstardom, including Steve Caballero, Rodney Mullen, Colin McKay, and Bucky Lasek, among others. Hawk turned pro in 1982, at age fourteen, and placed third in his first professional contest. At the time, there were only about thirty-five professional skaters, compared to the hundreds of pros today. Hawk went pro years before skateboarders started making any serious money. Skaters earned money from boards, stickers, and T-shirts sold with their names on them. Hawk's first royalty check was for eighty-five cents.