Tony Hawk is not only the greatest athlete in his sport, but its greatest ambassador as well.
Ten years after the native of San Diego landed the first 900 in skateboarding competition, it remains the most dazzling trick in the sport, and his video game series and numerous appearances in films and on TV have brought him a popularity that first stoked interest in skateboarding, and then transcended it.
From 1995 through 2002, Hawk won nine gold medals in X Games competition and played a big role in building the popularity of that broadcast entity for ESPN.
The son of a Naval officer, Hawk was featured at a San Diego Hall of Champions luncheon last week along with another local skater, Willy Santos of Mira Mesa, who were honored as innovators and for their philanthropic work. The Tony Hawk Foundation develops skateparks in inner cities and low-income areas.
Hawk is retired from competition but still skates in demos and exhibitions. His oldest son, Riley, 17, is an up-and-coming skater.
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