Ryan Sheckler opens up: Life, family and sobriety

In the latest episode of "Skaters in Cars," host Chris Nieratko meets up with 3-time X Games gold medalist Ryan Sheckler to chat insane skate spots, family and his sobriety.

The name Ryan Sheckler means many different things to a wide cross-section of fans around the globe. To hardcore skaters young and old, Sheckler represents the first generation of award-winning all-terrain skater to literally grow up before their eyes. Throughout skate history, there have always been young and talented rippers, but none have mastered street and transition in the way Sheckler has from the start of his career dating all the way back to when he won an X Games gold medal at the tender age of 13.

To numerous children with Autism and adaptive sports participants, Ryan Sheckler's Sheckler Foundation is one of the few inclusive organizations in skateboarding to not only acknowledge but nurture their desire to shred with numerous grants and clinics.

Finally, to the non-skateboarding demographic, Sheckler is a teenage heartthrob known for his short-lived hit MTV show 'Life Of Ryan.' From 2007-2008, Sheckler was the biggest name in action sports thanks to 'Life Of Ryan,' but ultimately the Hollywood lifestyle consumed Ryan to the point that he lost focus on his first true love: Skateboarding. Rather than burn out and fade away, Ryan quit his highly-rated show at its peak to shift his focus back to skating. Although the TV cameras were long gone, the demons of popularity lingered and eventually, Sheckler's partying caught up with him. In 2016, after failing to qualify at X Games Oslo 2016, Sheckler checked himself into a rehab facility in Malibu, California. Now, with more than a year and a half sober and newfound commitment to health, religion and skating, Ryan Sheckler is skating (and living) better than he ever has before.

Recently, we caught up with Ryan to continue our conversation regarding his sobriety, 'Life of Ryan,' the Sheckler Foundation and more from his episode of "Skaters In Cars."

XGames.com: When discussing your sobriety, you mentioned the major changes you made in your life. What other changes have you had to make?
Sheckler: I had to change my entire routine. I got stuck in this bad vibe. Everything for me started revolving around drinking. It became a serious problem for my mental health. I ended up wanting to take care of everybody around me. Everybody around me was way more important than myself. I never took the time to care about myself because what I thought made me happy was taking care of other people, trying to be a problem solver. When you take on that many people's responsibilities and you can't deal with your own self, it's a recipe for disaster. That's exactly where I was. Then you add Jack Daniels to the equation, and it's just all bad news.

The demands of a hit MTV show couldn't have helped either.
Yeah, I was just so over that because I love skateboarding so much, and it is so pure to me. Then to have my peers and people I seriously looked up to, talking sh*t about me and the show, I went into instant anger mode. which never solves anything. I started feeling like skateboarding was against me. It was like the most pure, enjoyable thing to me just got taken away. So it was easy for me to stop it. I wanted to skate and I wanted to film. I wanted to be a skateboarder again. I wanted skateboarders to look at me as a skateboarder.

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From 2007-2008, Sheckler starred on the MTV show 'Life Of Ryan,' but the demands of fame ultimately overshadowed his love for skateboarding.

Was MTV tripping that you would just walk away from it?
Yeah, for sure, because it was a really successful show. It was really fun at the start. The first season was fun because I wanted it. It's as simple as that: I wanted a show. All of my friends got to be a part of it, we did a clothing line from it and got to start the Sheckler Foundation. I don't take it for granted at all. It did what it was supposed to do. It was fun for a while.

At what point did you feel that you had enough distance from the show and that you were again accepted as one of the gnarliest skaters out there?
When I stopped worrying about it, honestly. I did an interview for TransWorld and I bashed Jamie Thomas. I was so mad at Jamie because he had said something negative. I just went into defense mode - that was all I knew. Years later I got a hold of him and told him I was sorry. Honestly though, not one single person can destroy skateboarding. That's kind of the impression I was under with these guys. It was like, "Oh his show is destroying skateboarding!" It's not. I'm one guy, man. Skateboarding is a freedom for me. I was at a point in my career and in my life that people thought it was interesting, and they wanted to make a show.

Back to my favorite type of fun❤️💯 @scsandlot 🎥 @custodiophoto

A post shared by Ryan Sheckler (@shecks) on

I've known you since you were a little kid and I think you are skating at the highest level you have ever skated.
I've never skated better. I've never felt more one with my board. It's such an extension of my body right now. I'm out in the streets constantly filming for my Etnies part. It's all good. I owe a lot of that to training four days a week for the past year and a half religiously. My skating has changed immensely because I trust my body, and I know how strong my body is. I've been boxing for over a year now. That alone has opened up my hips to a range that I've never had opened. I'm 27 years old and I'm getting more flexible, stronger and smarter. It gives me chills because I love it so much. I get into my park and I'll start skating, then I'll look at the clock and three hours passed. My body is ready for anything. Not just skateboarding, just life in general. Whatever gets thrown at me, I'm ready for. It's a powerful feeling.

You've accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. You've been involved in skating since you were a little kid, the TV show, the Sheckler Foundation. What do you think your legacy will be 40 years down the road?
It's crazy because I want to fall into that mentor role. I want to guide these kids. If they want help, I want to help. For me, skating was about being able to get invited to those parties. That ate me alive because I wanted to get invited and then I was invited to everything. All of a sudden, I wasn't skating as much. Skating wasn't really the focus. All of a sudden, I was worried about all of this BS. And it's BS. It really is. What're you going to do? You're going to go to the club and take a drunk girl home. It's the same damn thing. It's annoying. It's boring. And it takes so much energy.

For me, drugs and alcohol just stole memories. People tell me about good times I had. I was there, but I have zero recollection of it. And that sucks.
Do you know how many of those you and I have? And I love hanging out with you. To have that happen with people I love hanging out with that I don't remember. What is the point? I really just believe in that now. In my legacy, I want to be known as a dude that always had fun skateboarding and that was always there to lend a hand to someone that wanted to learn, or someone that needed help especially with my foundation. We do a lot of work with Autistic children. I love it. For the past four or five years, we've been working with Adaptive Action Sports guys who are in wheelchairs and charge harder than most skateboarders that I know. To watch a kid who is paralyzed from his waist down roll into a ramp that he's never done when kids are complaining about their board being chipped and they don't want to drop in without being held. It's okay, there's a process to skateboarding, and I understand that process but when you see a kid in a wheelchair do it and slam and figure his way back up to his wheels alone, it gives me chills. It's the most powerful thing I've ever seen.

Aaron Rogosin/Red Bull Content Pool

"Let people learn how to skate. Help people," says Sheckler.

It takes away the right for anyone to complain.
It's beyond powerful. It's beyond motivating. We also do a lot of gang prevention for kids and at risk youth, clinics in the park. I'm really trying to just show love. There's so much hate going on. I've realized how powerful this position is that I'm in right now. I have friends that are dead from stupid decisions. Life is about choices. I used to say it all the time, that I liked the hectic energy. Well if you like hectic energy, you're always talking about it, you're always going out aggressive, talking about fights and things like that, guess what you're going to find? Fights and the hectic energy that just cause nothing but pain. So I stopped looking for that hectic energy. Did I lose a lot of friends? Not to death but to my actions? Yeah I did, and it's the best thing that ever happened to me. The people that did not care about my well-being or me succeeding are out of my life. The people that wanted to party with me at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday, those people disappeared. My energy and my positivity has created this barrier. People can't even be around me that are messing around or shady. Shady people expect shady things to happen to them.

That's why I don't think people should carry guns. I've never come across a guy with a gun because I don't carry a gun. I don't put myself out there like that.
The second you own that, that's your power. All of a sudden it's not about trying to look at a situation from a human being standpoint where you don't agree. It's okay not to agree. There's a way to talk to anybody when you're in a situation battling about not agreeing. It's okay. You're allowed to have your own opinion, but it's the way and the tone that you deal with it. The understanding of, "Okay I'm understanding where your beliefs come from and I acknowledge that. This is where my beliefs come from, and this is what I'm doing. So the fact that we don't agree on this, that's okay. I appreciate what you think about that situation, I would respect if you appreciated how I feel, and we're still friends." A lot of people jump, and I used to do it too, jump to the conclusion of F-that, F-this, nope, nope, nope. The craziest thing I've learned too with the more spiritual I'm becoming, it's the enemies sometimes are the ones that tell you the truth. The truth that God wants you to hear -- he's testing you. He'll allow someone that shouldn't be in your circle to tell you the truth. You'll hear that and be like, "Wait a minute, am I really supposed to be listening to that?" It's a crazy world I'm in now. It's so peaceful because I'm at peace, and I trust myself.

Once you stop seeking any kind of validation inner peace can begin. But people need that from other people. I mean that's what social media is, right? People get bummed out if they don't catch that "like" from a friend.
That's the thing. How have we allowed ourselves to become this society that is so based on comparison when comparing in the bible is a sin. One of the main sins is comparison because God created all of us in His image. We're all humans. We're here for love. This is the test. We're only here for what? 90 years? 100? You get 100 years here -- you've got eternity in heaven. Are you really going to shame all these people and be a tough guy on the Internet when you're probably going to be in heaven with that dude, the end of your life? You're going to have some serious things to own up to when you get to heaven. For me, I'm trying to have the least amount of explaining to do when I get to heaven. That's why I'm living my life the way I'm doing it now: Respectful and to live with love. I'm not saying I don't go off the cuff and get angry. I have that aggressive side of me that lives, and it's even stronger now because of my morals and my beliefs. When I see laziness or I see people complaining about their beautiful lives, it really bothers me. I've learned how to express that frustration in words that people can relate to and somewhat go like, "Oh, damn. Maybe I'm kind of being an ass." It's important to be real. But if you can't give them something they can work with, tell them you cannot. Once I started realizing that if you're just dead honest and dead real with people, and if you don't know the answer and you tell them you don't know, it's so much more powerful. It might suck at the time, but it's way more powerful to know that you didn't give someone invalid information that could end up hurting them or getting them into a situation that they didn't account for. These reactions and these spider web effects of our actions, can be avoided by simply just showing love.

The bottom line is, and I'm guilty of it too, when people put negativity out there, it's because they've got their own negative issues going on. I go back and read my interviews, and yeah, they're funny but some of the stuff I asked 20 years ago I wouldn't ask that of somebody today.
It's growing up. You can learn wisdom. Be slow to speak and be quick to listen. I started doing that more. I started learning wisdom. When you want to say something or you have something negative to say to somebody and then you bite your tongue and acknowledge that you just bit your tongue and you're not going to say it then someone in the room next to you says exactly what you wanted to say to that person and you don't even have to be involved in it. It got said. Just from simply chilling.

That's something I've been working on a ton: Taking a deep breath before you open up your mouth. Does it even need to be said? Can you just hold that to yourself?
While you're pondering that, the opportunity to say it either goes away or someone else says it. That's how I got into so much controversy with skating, because I had opinions on things but most of those opinions should've been kept to myself.

Follow Ryan Sheckler's latest exploits on Instagram here.

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