Tony Hawk: San Diego’s Coolest Dad

June 3rd, 2009 by Ali

Tony Hawk: San Diego’s Coolest Dad talks about babies and boarding

By Kirsten Flournoy, Editor of San Diego Family Magazine.

Mention the name Tony Hawk and one thing comes to mind: skateboards. But the man who transformed skateboarding from a rogue street sport to a lucrative competitive industry is also a devoted dad to Riley, Spencer, Keegan, and Kadence.

A San Diego native, Hawk attended Torrey Pines High School. Since turning pro at age 14, he’s traveled extensively and inspired kids around the globe. An astute businessman, Tony is an entrepreneur, designer and philanthropist on top of the world. He’s made more than 130 appearances in fi lm and on TV, and won six gold medals at the ESPN X-Games.

Hawk’s Boom Boom HuckJam was a sold-out success. The punk- and rock-driven touring showcase featured the world’s best skateboarders, BMX and Motocross riders. Hawk shares his expertise in books, DVDs and a series of highly rated videogames, and he designs skateboards and a kid’s clothing line for Kohl’s. The Tony Hawk Foundation has given more than 2 million dollars to help build 390 skate parks in lowincome areas across the United States. Despite the celebrities, awards and accolades, what’s most important to Tony? The answer isn’t surprising. It’s family.

Tony’s wife Lhotse Merriam is a skier, former publicist and boutique owner, and the former Vice President of the International Free Skiers Association. She met Tony in Colorado, where she promoted extreme skiing events.

Married in 2006 to live music by the band Rancid, Lhotse and Tony spent a year and a half year trying to conceive using in vitro fertilization. IVF can be a rollercoaster of hope and disappointment.

“It’s a pretty rough road,” Lhotse says. “I really admire everyone who goes through it and goes the distance. We were pretty lucky on our fourth try.”

Their daughter Kadence Clover was born in July 2008. Lhotse and Kadence now accompany Tony on his travels. When we spoke to the Hawks, they’d returned from visiting four countries in just three weeks—business as usual for this dynamic family.

“There is no typical day in our household at all. If we’re not on the road, we are at home,” says Lhotse. “Tony’s usually in the office or an interview. [He] tries to get in skating three to four times a week at the warehouse or at home because we have a skate park in the back yard.”

When Kadence is older, she may be homeschooled or go to the school Spencer and Keegan currently attend. For now, Lhotse says, “I think that the best education is on the road.”

While travel and business commitments keep the Hawks moving, family is their first priority.

Oldest son Riley, 16, is already distinguishing himself on the skateboard. He travels regularly and already has an income from sponsors. Tony praises Riley as a “really good innovative street skater developing his own style.”

Spencer, 9, loves music, playing guitar, surfing and skating.

At 7, Keegan is very artistic. Tony says, “He’s gifted physically and athletically but his art is amazing for his age. He’s got a bright future.”

Little Kadence already has her papa wrapped around her finger. Tony admits to being “a little more worried [about having a daughter] just because of the perception of dangers to women and her vulnerability.”

Luckily, Kadence has three adoring big brothers to look out for her.

Stepmom to Riley, Spencer and Keegan, Lhotse offers this advice for blended families: “The more people that love these kids, that’s the village that’s raising these kids. Whatever is an issue between adults doesn’t have anything to do with children.”

Lhotse says that relationships bloom when “stepparents are friends and don’t force anything on kids.”

Though he’s going full-speed now, Tony’s schedule will eventually slow down. He’d like to transition from performing to taking on more speaking engagements, and focus on his foundation and his children. He’s even started playing the violin again, an instrument he gave up in elementary school.

Will Tony ever quit skating? “

At 40, Tony’s still a progressive skater, doing things that others don’t do,” says Lhotse. “He’ll skate as long as no one’s snickering.”

Q&A with Tony Hawk

You have three sons. What feels different about having a daughter? “She’s much more subdued and mellower. She’s happy just to sit and play.”

How soon do you plan to put Kadence on a skateboard? “There are so many opportunities for her … my wife is an avid skier, that may be her first foray into action sports.”

Would you be disappointed if Kadence is more academic than athletic? “I would just be happy that she follows her dream, it doesn’t matter to me if she does anything related to what I do.”

What lessons have you learned that you feel are most important to pass on to your children? “To be interested, engaged, not just to be present but to actually be involved in what they’re doing. I think that’s the thing my dad taught me the most—support your kids and what they do but also understand it and be involved in it, not just drive them to the game. Share in it.”

Any tips for divorced dads on maintaining connection with their kids? “Constant communication and being involved in any and every way even if it means just going to a school function or game [even if ] it’s not on your specific day. You don’t want to just be the fun guy…you have to be an authority figure.

Who is the “next” Tony Hawk? “There are so many good skaters now. Chaz Ortiz is winning major competitions. [My son] Riley is an accomplished skater at 16.”

Will cops and skaters ever get along? “When cities provide more public facilities, maybe yes.”

What’s in heavy rotation on your iPod? “Nine Inch Nails, the Clash, Jane’s Addiction and Block Party.”

What does the future hold? “Besides raising my children, to help my business thrive and be more behind the scenes rather than a skate icon. Be home more to be present for my kids. I don’t have a master plan. I’ll skate as long as I’m physically able.”

Any final words of wisdom? “Get involved. Be present, don’t just stand by returning phone calls and emails, actually be there and ask questions. Be a friend as well as be a parent.”

Kids Want to Know…

What did it take to become pro? Kyle, 14

A lot of hard work. It takes raising your profile, getting a lot of recognition either through videos or magazine covers and getting to a point where people recognize your name and appreciate you so much they would buy products that bear your name.”

What is your favorite drink? Carter, 9

“Iced tea and 8-ounce old-school bottles of Coca-Cola.”

Would you take back skating if you could, and do something else? Garon, 14

“No. I’ve loved it since I started it and it’s given me opportunities that I never dreamed were possible. It’s allowed me to travel the world. To make a living and in ways I never imagined possible.” and take responsibility. Later on in life that can be a downfall, that you’re only the fun guy because then they won’t turn to you when things get serious. Pass on your values but set some limits.”

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