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Tony Hawk Carves a New Niche

The master of the half-pipe and creator of a skateboard empire is about to introduce his latest trick: a skateboard without wheels

This story appears in the October 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Tony Hawk got his first skateboard when he was 9 years old, and he's been rolling ever since: He turned pro at 14, won more competitions than any other pro skater in history and in 1999 astonished the world by becoming the first to land a "900"--a 900-degree turn, that's two-and-a-half midair spins--at the X Games in San Francisco.

In a sport rooted in the hard-partying fringe of Southern California, Hawk was something different: While he was still in high school, he used his winnings to buy a house in Carlsbad, and a few years later, he started his first company--Birdhouse--even though the skateboard industry was tanking at the time. Hawk was convinced better days were ahead.

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