Personal,  Sports

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.

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