Millions of Americans enjoy skateboarding, and kids often treat their favorite skaters like rock stars. When it comes to the professional skate culture, the rock star lifestyle is often a bit too much to handle.
Thanks to a new Vice special featuring a day with professional skateboarder Neen Williams, teens thinking about breaking into skate culture will have a much better idea of what is to come.
Williams is now 31 years old but has been skating since he was 13. During his teens and 20s, Williams wasn’t exactly taking care of himself. Because he was living such an unhealthy lifestyle, his entire skating career was in jeopardy.
“If you take care of yourself you can skate forever,” Williams said. “This is why I do all this healthy stuff for myself. Because I want to skate forever.”
Williams is now completely sober and spends his time working out and eating much healthier so he can skate at the top of his game.
Williams was a party animal from the time he was a teenager until recently. After years of destroying his body, both from failed skateboarding tricks and by alcohol and drug abuse, he decided to completely change his life for the better.
“Skateboarding forever was like ‘Drink booze, smoke, we don’t stretch, we don’t work out,'” he added. “I stopped drinking because the older you get you’re going to feel the repercussions of doing all that. Back in the day I’d wake up late, eat a burrito, and slam a beer, go out and skate, manage to get a trick, and then it would be just party time again. It would just never stop. It was like a vicious cycle.”
Though he still gets hurt every once in a while as he tries to land difficult skate tricks, he is in a much better place in his life both mentally and physically.
Every day, roughly 25,000 Americans suffer ankle sprains. Core skaters — skaters that skate at least 26 times or more during the year — often suffer much worse than ankle sprains. Neen has completely wrecked his body dozens of times.
“I’ve torn both of my ACLs, MCL, all types of stuff,” he said. “Skateboarding is intense.”
According to X Games, Neen is looking forward to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, as well.
“I don’t mind skateboarding being a part of the Olympics,” he said. “If it brings more people into skateboarding, good. That’s great for all the companies out there trying to survive, and that’s great for all of us skateboarders.”
Williams is more excited than ever about his life and is happy to be healthy. When asked what he’s excited about next:
“I’m really hyped to watched [KOTR 2017] and see how everyone did,” he said. “Also just skating and filming for the next project. I’m trying to film my best part ever, keeping myself in shape and constantly chasing a higher health.”