Nyjah Huston quickly garnered attention after winning his first major street skateboarding competition at 10 years old in 2005. In 2012, he became the highest paid skateboarder in the world and has won more prize money than any other skateboarder in history as of 2013. With 18 X Games and six World Skateboarding Championship medals under his belt, Huston now looks to Tokyo to further write his name into history as skateboarding makes its debut.
As part of our preparation for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to a wide range of athletes to learn more about their lives on and off the field of play.
Here’s some of what we found out about Nyjah Huston:
Tell us about your family.
My parents were childhood sweethearts that are now divorced as of 2010. My mother is Kelle Huston, who is also my current manager, and father is Adeyemi Huston, who is not involved in my life. I have four siblings, including three brothers: Jahmai (28), Ahbi (26), Kiade (22); and one sister, Isha (20). We were raised in an alternative family with a very unique story. Our father got us into skating and built us many ramps around our yard. My parents bought an indoor skatepark in 2003 that was a perfect training facility for me. The rest is history... and now I’m hoping to represent the USA at the Tokyo Olympics.
How did your parents influence your skateboarding career?
My father got us into skateboarding as he was a skater in his high school days. He built many ramps in our yard and everyone in the family skated together (except Mom), including my baby sister. My parents bought a motorhome and would take us to skate competitions throughout California when I was only seven or eight years old. In 2003, they bought an existing indoor skatepark in Woodland, Calif., where my father and older brothers completely renovated the park. This became a perfect training facility for me and my brothers. My father was also my personal filmer for street skating and edited my videos. I would say that they were definitely more supportive than typical parents, and I recognize that I would not be where I am today without them, although it came at the cost of our family unit. Skateboarding was the epi-center of our life for many years. My success as a young athlete contributed to major disagreements between my parents and my mom had to make the ultimate decision to leave. Unfortunately, my father is no longer involved with us or my career.
How has your hometown of Laguna Beach, Calif. shaped who you are today?
My current hometown of Laguna Beach is not skate friendly at all and skateboarding is illegal on the sidewalks. Fortunately, public skateparks exist all over now and I can drive nearby to many different skateparks. I also have my own private indoor park in the nearby town of San Clemente. In my younger years in Davis, Calif., there was one public skatepark, but it was poorly designed. The biggest help was the ramps and later indoor park my father built for us.
Where else have you lived?
When I was four years old, we lived in the Fiji islands, but I don’t remember much. My father moved us to Puerto Rico when I was 10 and it wasn’t the best place for skateboarding. I moved back to California when I was 15, after my parent’s divorce.
Tell us about your charity.
My mom and I founded a water charity called Let It Flow in 2011. We repair broken water wells and distribute water filtration systems in third world countries. This was inspired by our own experience of living with a subpar water system on our farm in Puerto Rico. We would often have to carry water up into our house.
How much time do you train?
I wake up around 9 a.m. I eat a super healthy and clean diet. I work out at my gym usually four days a week. I go to physical therapy usually three days a week. I skate at my private indoor park and public parks a few days a week. Skating is so hard on my knees that I typically don’t skate two days in a row.
What is the worst injury you’ve had?
My worst injury has been a blunt fall to my left kneecap back in 2012 that is still sore to this day. It is not something that can be repaired with surgery, so I just work around it. I have broken one pinky finger, had a few ankle sprains, and stitches in my head and scrotum. I have had one major concussion, but I was able to recover very quickly and still compete in the same week. Fortunately, no major ligament or tendon tears.
What is your nutrition plan?
I was raised as a pure vegan and ate home-cooked meals for the first 15 years of my life. I now eat lean proteins like fish and chicken combined with a good amount of carbs and lots of vegetables. I do not eat fast food or junk food. Fortunately, my parents raised me with a very healthy diet and educated me about the value of nutrition.
What is your earliest memory of skateboarding?
When I was two years old, I pushed my father’s old skateboard around like a push toy. At five years old, I started skating on my knees and at six years old I started competing. Skateboarding became a family business and I skated six days a week with my father and brothers at our indoor skatepark. Other than riding a bike and shooting hoops with my brothers at the neighborhood park, I never played any other sports as a kid. Skateboarding was our life so I didn’t really have a choice.
What is your earliest memory of watching the Olympics?
We didn’t have TV for most of my childhood, but I remember my father watching the track and field events when I was around nine years old. Absolutely never imagined skateboarding as an Olympic sport, but super stoked it happened during my career.
What advice would you give a young skateboarder?
Practice, practice, practice ... The repetition and the 10,000 hour concept are real.