Pro skater Tony Hawk empowers young people around the world

Tony Hawk skates off a kitchen counter.
Legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk is also a successful entrepreneur. (Martin Schoeller)

If you see skateboarders in your country, it’s likely that legendary athlete Tony Hawk has had something to do with it.

Hawk is more than a skateboarder. He’s also an entrepreneur and philanthropist who promotes skating in his home state of California, across the U.S. and in countries around the world. After launching Birdhouse Skateboards, an equipment and apparel company, Hawk teamed up with Activision to create the popular “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” video game series. Hawk’s products span the globe.

In 2002, when parents told Hawk that children needed safe places to skateboard, he responded by starting the Tony Hawk Foundation, which seeks to “foster lasting improvements in society, with an emphasis on supporting and empowering youth,” according to the organization’s website.

In February 2014, the foundation granted $100,000 to nongovernmental skateboarding endeavor Skateistan. Located in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa, Skateistan empowers young people by teaching and promoting skateboarding.

His advice to budding entrepreneurs? “The best that you can do to grow something globally is to keep introducing it to different countries, however you can,” Hawk said.

Skateboarding no longer belongs to California, but to the world.

Video footage of Tony Hawk in Cambodia is from All other footage is from  Afghanistan’s Girl Skaters 2012 is from Skateistan.