BY REGGIE ALTEMA
In 2012, after basketball phenom Brittney Griner and her Baylor University teammates won the NCAA women’s national championship, she didn’t go to Disney World; she grabbed her longboard and went skating for a few hours. Like any skater, Griner attracted the attention of the police.
“We were going down a main street, holding on to the back of my friend’s car trying to see how fast we could go and we got pulled over. We definitely got noticed. Right when we were like, ‘Let’s go home,’ we got caught,” Griner explained. Tony Hawk would be proud.
As the Global X Games season continues, it was only right to speak with an athlete who was so heavily influenced by action sports early on in life. Recently, XGames.com sat down with Griner in Los Angeles while she was getting a personal tour of Nike’s Sixth and Mill skatepark with professional skateboarder Eric Koston to discuss her love of action sports.
XGames.com: How did you get addicted to skateboarding?
Griner: When I was kid I just liked watching the X Games. I saw Tony Hawk skate and it took off from there. I just wanted to do what they were doing for the thrill — I’m an adrenaline junkie, I guess. I do stupid stuff sometimes. My first week at Baylor I almost got hit by a bus. My board got ran over. I was so mad. I had just bought it. The bus cracked it in half.
Do you like longboarding because you have more room for your feet?
I feel more balanced and safe on a longboard. I wear size 17 and those on a little board are kind of tough. I definitely like longboarding a lot. I like bombing hills. My first time bombing a hill … I was in college. It was awesome.
I heard that you met Tony Hawk recently and you cried.
I did. I met Tony and I cried and it was the best feeling and best experience ever. Growing up watching him in X Games, I thought I was going to be Tony Hawk — before I hit my growth spurt.
When I was shorter I was thinking, ‘Yeah, I can do this,’ but those dreams got killed. When I met him I just couldn’t really say anything. I told him he skates well, which was the stupidest comment ever. Why did I say that? Of course he knows that.
I was that ‘super fan.’ I don’t know what it was with Tony. I just idolize him so much from skateboarding, I just couldn’t say much.
Did you really hurt your wrist skating?
Yeah, this was while I was in college after we won the national championship my junior year. I was 21, skating in a parking garage. It was a real steep entry way. My friend went down first and he barely made it.
He had a small Sector 9 board and I had a big board and I was thinking, ‘I can do this. This is no problem.’ I had just got the board and wanted to try it out. I walked down the hill and then got on my board and I knew right away I wasn’t going to make it. I picked up speed instantly.
I jumped off the board because I was going so fast I couldn’t control my speed and I ended up going straight into a cement wall. I threw my arms up trying to brace myself and snapped my wrist. It was the worst pain of my life. Worse than any basketball injury. I went back to that hill actually and made it.