From “Christ Air” to Christ Heir

Folks have frequently asked me about the picture of me on the skateboard in the header image of this blog. Usually the questions have something to do with whether or not the picture is real. The answer to that question is yes (though readers should know that getting a still-shot in the air is pretty easy; landing, however, is another matter altogether). Truth be known, I haven’t been a serious skateboarder since the late 80’s. This picture was taken at my parent’s home in 2005. I had decided to try my old skateboard out while visiting my folks, my friend Barry Joslin snapped a picture, and voila. I became what every authentic skateboarder despises—a poser. But at least I got a good picture out of it.

One of my favorite aspects of this photo is the board that I am riding. The board is over 20 years old, and it was the best deck that I ever owned. I loved this board in large part because of whose name was on it. Every skate-rat that I knew in the eighth grade was a devotee of Tony Hawk, but that’s not whose name was on my board. Hawk was way too mainstream, and I considered him to have sold out to the man (Ironically, I think I myself now to be the man, but I digress). My board bore the name of one of Hawk’s main rivals—Christian Hosoi.

Hosoi dazzled a generation of skaters with his high-flying half-pipe varials. He consistently won the highest-air events at skate competitions, and he was pretty amazing to watch. Ten feet above the edge of the ramp was nothing for him. What he was known best for was a trick that he did called “Christ air.” This stunt consisted of his flying-high above the top of the ramp, stretching his arms and legs out in the form of a crucifix, and then putting his feet back on the board just in time to hit the half-pipe again on the way down (see picture at right).

The irony of Hosoi in those days was that his name was Christian, his nickname was “Christ,” and his signature move was “Christ Air.” But Christian was no Christian. Not by a long shot. His success eventually gave way to drug addiction and prison. He was sentenced to 10 years in 2000 for drug charges but was released in 2004 for good behavior.

Why am I writing about Christian Hosoi today? Because I just read a story in The New York Times that reports on the spread of Christianity among the professional athletes of extreme sports. Christian Hosoi’s story is mentioned in the article. It turns out that something remarkable happened to him while in prison. Apparently, God got a hold of him, and he converted to Christianity. Now he is a pastor at a church in Huntington Beach, California.

I can’t imagine a better ending to his story, and probably didn’t imagine it when I was a fan in the 80’s. The Lord’s arm is not too short to save (Isaiah 59:1), and I am grateful to read that it has saved Christian.

11 Responses to From “Christ Air” to Christ Heir

  1. Brian Krieger August 4, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    Awesome story! What a joy.

  2. Light August 4, 2009 at 3:22 pm #

    Interesting story. Visiting your page after a long time was worth it.

  3. Lizajanie August 4, 2009 at 4:32 pm #

    Yes, I watch Christian Hosoi on a TV show called THE UPRISING. He, Brian Sumner and Jay Haizlip go around California and other places tellings skaters about the Lord. It’s really an inspiring show. I think all three of these guys are pastors in Huntington Beach. And, at 41, Christian just won the X-Games Legends competition! He’s awesome!

  4. Lizajanie August 4, 2009 at 4:37 pm #

    Hey, just found the show site if anyone is interested.

  5. Brian August 4, 2009 at 6:30 pm #

    Its encouraging to see these extreme sport pros stand up for Jesus. I am also a skater from the 80s, who still skates regularly even now in my thirties, and it is great to be able to point to those guys as positive role models for the youth I minister to.

  6. Ryan August 5, 2009 at 9:06 am #

    That deck of yours if fun to ride. I think I may have been there the day that photo was taken. I still skate every now and then. In fact, back in May I went to a huge public concrete skate park in Hammond, LA. It was like a dream come true.

  7. Denny Burk August 5, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    Hey, Ryan. Great to hear from you. I too think you may have been there for that picture.

  8. Roberto August 6, 2009 at 3:16 am #

    You may want to check out the documentary about his life, struggles, conversion, and ongoing ministry. Rising Son: The Legend of Skateboarder Christian Hosoi (2006) is ok as a documentary. It’s not the greatest, but neither is it the worst. I watched it on cable just to see the life of one of skateboardings greats…and was shocked to see it discuss his conversion and ministry in Huntington Beach. I had no idea. It’s worth a look.

  9. Nick Hill August 7, 2009 at 10:11 pm #

    Great story. God’s grace is amazing.

  10. kiberly gee August 22, 2009 at 11:07 pm #

    i actually got the privalige to meet him and it was funny cause i’m taller than him 😛
    but he is such a nice man and he gave his testimony at my boyfriend’s church. it was really great and it touched me. i have one of his skateboards 😀


  1. » Christian Hosoi – I Am Second | Denny Burk - August 25, 2010

    […] a year ago, I found out about the conversion of one of my childhood heroes—Christian Hosoi (read about it here). He was a professional skateboarder, and I thought he was the best in the world. He was big-time […]

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