Checking In With Ryan Sheckler

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There aren't many pro skaters you can watch grow before your eyes, but Sheckler's one of them. onClick="window.open('http://www.espn.com/action/skateboarding/gallery?id=5205807','Popup','width=990,height=720,scrollbars=no,noresize'); return false;">Gallery »

For more than 10 years, skateboarding phenomenon Ryan Sheckler has made a name for himself -- one that stands for different things depending on whom you ask. Due to his successful-yet-sappy MTV show "Life of Ryan," he's a heartthrob to a nation of television-obsessed teenyboppers. At the same time, he alienated many core skate fans. In spite of everything, it can't be denied that Ryan Sheckler kills it on a skateboard. It is the most important factor in the Sheckler equation and he's well aware that all he has is thanks to skateboarding. So Sheckler chose to turn his back on the television show last year and focus on what brought him success in the first place.

I've known Sheckler and his family for over a decade now. He is a good kid from a good family, despite the way MTV's edits often portrayed the Shecklers. As he explains in this interview, the kind of vile filth they've had to deal with as a result of their fame only made it worse. In the end, "Life of Ryan" will be a small blip on the radar of a long career. In the end Ryan Sheckler will be remembered for what he was able to accomplish on his skateboard, not off it.

I love the new Oakley ad with the "I Hate Sheckler" T-shirts. Are you actually selling those?
No, that was just a joke. We were trying to come up with concepts for ads and I was just goofing around and was like, "Let's just make 'I Hate Sheckler' shirts." They liked it. We just went to L.A. and screen-printed a couple. I have a couple at my house; my friends wear them sometimes. It's funny.

Last year if you were selling them you'd probably make a mint off them but maybe they wouldn't sell as good now.
That's a good thing. I would hope that they wouldn't sell as good now. I've been trying to get back to the roots and just keep it skate. There are still definitely those haters out there but I'm not trying to win them all over.

Do you feel that you're getting less flak now?
In a way, yeah. I went to Tampa Pro this year and I totally thought people were just going to be hating the whole time and it was one of the better experiences I've ever had at Tampa. Everyone was psyched to see me skate and I felt cool to be around all those kids. It was good to feel accepted.

Did you skate with a helmet like when you were 10?
No, man. I should have done that. The last time I was there I got the award for Best Slam. A couple years ago I got that concussion and I didn't go back for a while.

Do you think that the easing up of negative feelings toward you has a lot to do with not doing that MTV show anymore?
Yeah, I think it has something to do with that. But the only reason I think it does is because with the show off the air I haven't been in everyone's face as much. So, they don't know what I'm doing and everyone is like, "OK, cool. Maybe he's living the normal life," which I am. I'm skating every day and just trying to get in shape for these contests. I was injured for a while so I'm just trying to 100 percent with that. It's good that [the show] is not on TV anymore.

Was the decision to end the show mutual? MTV's decision? Yours?
Mine; 100 percent mine. When I started the show I said, "If it gets me away from my actual skateboarding fans and gets me away from skateboarding, then I'm not going to do the show anymore." That's why our third season was only six episodes; we cut it in half. I was, like, "I can't do it anymore! It's going to be more detrimental to my career than positive." We just quit. We stopped it.

Is there anything you miss about having the show?
Nope, not a damn thing. I'm glad to be just skating and doing my own thing.

Have the crazed fans settled down?
No. They're still up and kicking for sure.

Did you ever get actual stalkers just showing up at your house?
Not my house but my mom's house. There was a guy that showed up there, a man. It's a crazy story and my mom is in court today for the situation. The dude came to the house during the day and made himself known. My little brother Kane answered the door and he said, "Kane, is Gretchen here?" So Kane thought my mom knew this guy. Long story short, my mom told him to get away from the house because he said he had a present for Kane. They came home later that day and the guy had left a gift in the backyard, behind the gates of the house. Kane being Kane opened it and it was a brand-new scooter. But the dude had made this card that read "I love you, Kane," all this pedophile stuff. My brother Shane got home that night at, like, midnight and was walking through the backyard and the dude came out of the bushes and he called Shane my name. It was a sketchy situation for sure and it ended in my brother having to fight the dude, this 42-year-old man, to protect himself. It was crazy. Now we're trying to get a restraining order on him.

The MTV show is done but you got a cool little thing you're doing on ryansheckler.com with Red Bull.
Yeah, we're just doing these little "Skate Life" episodes. Whatever we do or whenever we go on a trip or anything that seems like it would be interesting for our skate viewers we just film it and try to put together six-minute clips every month just to keep the fans informed of what we're doing. It's called "Red Bull Skate Life" and it's pretty fun.

And it's not about chasing chill girls? It's about skateboarding?
Yeah, it's about skateboarding -- going out and skating and experiencing new cities and towns and countries. Just having fun and living the skate life.

How was it filming that Berrics United Nations with the whole Plan B team?
Epic. I have no words to describe how awesome that was. It was so awesome to be with the whole team and watching those dudes shred. Felipe Gustavo is one of the best skateboarders around right now. The dude is insane. It was hard for me to skate because I had just come off that injury. That was right after Tampa and I still wasn't 100 percent so I didn't get as much as I wanted in the whole thing but it turned out so good. The team took care of business. Those guys were talking like, "We just got to do everything no one has done before." I was like, "I'm still running basics right now but I'll skate around and have some fun with you guys." Even [Pat] Duffy. He did a nollie back heel down those stairs. Everyone went for it. It was tight.

You're saying you were doing basics because of the ankle injury you sustained at last summer's X Games. How's recovery been?
Not 100 percent basics. I just couldn't really jump that much. I was just trying to get used to putting pressure on my foot again. It's gradually been getting better. It's 100 percent right now and I've been skating my a-- off. My skatepark just got done three weeks ago and I've been in there every day just skating the manual pads and the ledges. I'm trying to switch up what I skate and keep it unpredictable; keep people guessing.

What's the park like?
Indoor, 10,000 square feet. I took the other skatepark out. I had a big one. It was like a skatepark on crack. I took all the big stuff out. I cut the 12-stair down to a nine and basically took out everything that wasn't necessary and put in a lot of flat ground, ledges, manual pads, 25-foot flatbars. It's pretty fun now. It's a good time and I've been able to learn tricks I didn't think I was gonna be able to learn. Being hurt gave me so much time to actually think about skateboarding and think about nollies and skating switch so that when I got back on the board that's all my brain was telling me to do and it was easy to learn. I just skated switch the whole time and I feel more comfortable on my board than I ever have. It's going to be a fun year.

When are we going to see this Plan B video?
That's the question I get a lot. I'm working my a-- off. I know everyone is working to get it done by the end of this year.

Do you know if Danny Way is going to have street footage?
Yeah, he will. His part is crazy.

What are some outstanding goals you still have in skateboarding?
Thrasher magazine's Skater of the Year is clearly my No. 1 goal. The only way I get that is skating. Other than that, I haven't set that many outrageous goals. If I got Skater of the Year that would just really add to it all and make me feel really good. Whether it's this year, next year or five years from now that is my goal.

When it's all said and done, what do you think your legacy will be in skateboarding?
Maybe just opening eyes to the fact that you can actually get paid from skateboarding and you can live a great life and show that anything is possible through skateboarding. I never thought at 18 I'd buy my first house or any of this would be possible but through skateboarding it all was. Hopefully kids realize you can do anything you want. Skateboarding can be that gateway.

You didn't have any idea life would be like this back when you were 10, going down to Tampa Am with your mom, all padded up?
No, I thought that was what I was supposed to do. When I was 5 years old, hanging out with my friends who were all older than me, like 8 or 9, I was joking around like, "Yeah, when I'm 20 that's a perfect age to go pro." That's what I had in my head. Then I turn pro at 13. It's all been a mystery and its all been awesome.

What's the rest of 2010 going to be like for you?
Filming for the Plan B video. We have a couple Plan B trips coming up and an Etnies Barbecue Tour, the Dew Tour, Street League and then I turn 21 on Dec. 30. That's going to be a banger, for sure. We're going to Vegas, Miami and Cabo for my birthday week.

Twenty-one-years old. You've been loved, hated and loved again. Any regrets?
No, man. I'm living with every step. I can't live with regret. The past is the past. I'm not worried about it. I can't change it. I can't fix it. It is what it is. I'm just living.