“He had an inhuman focus when he dropped in on a ramp, a kind of desperate and almost violent grace. Watching him skate, I sensed he had more at stake than anyone else.” – Bret Anthony Johnston
The man is Danny Way. He is a professional skateboarder. His specialty is called the MegaRamp. I had never heard of him until I read Bret Anthony Johnston’s article “Danny Way and the Gift of Fear” last week. Though I have never cared for skateboarding, dating back to a face plant into the house of my grandma’s neighbor at age nine, I haven’t stopped thinking about him since. I am afterall a fan of focus, commitment and ultimately greatness. I am a fan of Danny Way.
Danny’s story strikes many familiar notes. He comes from a broken home, saw and experienced drunken abuse, endured loss and found a sanctuary on a skateboard. He displayed early talent, surpassed his older brother and became a professional as a teenager. He earned money and fame, and at times did his best to lose both with drugs and injury. There was always redemption with two feet on a skateboard staring down a ramp that few in the world would have the courage to try.
And it isn’t as if the ramp hadn’t bitten him either. Behind the vertical, long jump and land speed records, even the times he dropped from a helicopter 0r off the Hard Rock guitar in on a ramp or jumped the Great Wall of China, there were crashes, hard crashes with consequences….broken bones, torn ligaments and scars. Sometimes these crashes were played out in front of crowds, but mostly just practicing….trying something nobody had done yet.
Danny Way’s is a story of talent and toughness, but also of purity. He does not skate for money or to be a global icon. He skates because it is what’s in him to do. Beyond titles and acclaim, he sees in skating possibilities and purpose. In concluding, I ask you to watch this clip below in it’s entirety and reflect on your own focus and commitment to what you value.