"This guy to me is the end all, be all. You got to understand, this guy, he's my 100% role model in life. I studied everything he's ever done. You know, I love this guy, he's my favorite skater—period.”
That’s skater Paul Rodriguez waxing poetic about California-bred professional skateboarder, Eric Koston. It’s the kind of effusive praise that seems to come from, well, everywhere re: Koston—both inside the skate world and outside of it—and anyone that knows a scintilla about the guy understands it’s well warranted.
If you’re one of those relative few that aren’t terribly familiar with Koston or if you’re a fan always looking for a factoid or fun anecdote, we’ve got a smattering of skateboarding lore collected below looking at both Koston’s career achievements and his die-hard sneakerhead nature, with some fun quotes and interviews mixed in.
In search of Eric Koston... (1993)
Born in Thailand in the same hospital as pro skateboarder Alphonzo Rawls (must just be something about the babies they’re delivering there), Koston’s family quickly relocated to San Bernardino, California, where his adoration of the skate world first blossomed. Picking up the sport in 1986, it took only six short years for EK to turn pro.
1992 may have seen the rise of the “Dream Team”—notably, Koston is a ravenous fan of basketball and, specifically, the Lakers—but that year also brought to fruition the dream that was his own professional career, as he nabbed his first sponsorship with "101 Team.” The next year, he would join the “H-Street Team,” never looking back.
Koston and Dyrdek: Two great personalities, one video
Heralded for his switch- and Nollie-based wizardry, his skill and influence would eventually draw comparisons to that of His Airness, Michael Jordan, thanks to contemporaries such as Brandon Biebel. This would prove prescient due to Koston’s later deep dive into the shoe space (more on that below.)
While 101 Team kicked things off, EK would eventually reel in a sensational string of sponsorships that reflected his growing stature in the sport. As of the last couple years, his sponsorships grew to include Nike SB, Fourstar, Spitfire Wheels, Independent Truck Company, Supreme, Diamond, The Berrics, Oakley, Jessup, and Skullcandy.
Going off the grid with Koston
It’s difficult to sum up the accomplishments of one of the most celebrated street skaters ever, but the following are a few highlights:
"You want your soul to be nude."
We couldn’t go without a special mention of shoes.
Koston is a renowned sneakerhead and his impact on that industry has been truly tremendous since the late 90s. Beginning with the legendary eS Koston, EK’s had a pro model shoe on the market since 1997—establishing himself as one of the longest-tenured signature athletes in any sport.
Be sure to peep the eS Koston 3, released at the arguable height of his powers in 2000. It’s featured in our recent “7 of the Greatest Skate Shoes Ever” piece and really draws attention to all of Koston’s aforementioned basketball influences.
Oh, and as to his currently available kicks? Those include the Nike SB Eric Koston, Nike SB Koston Max, and the Nike SB Koston 3 Hyperfeel. (Purchase here.)
The Best of Eric Koston, 2018
“You wanna hang with the big dogs, you can’t piss like a pup.”
“I just kick a heel flip out—frontside 180, jump in the air and pray.”
On the X-Games: "The courses have become so insane. A few years back, they became so ridiculous as far as how big some of the sections were." […..] "I'm not a big believer in killing myself for a contest. I don't want my life to revolve around competition."
On preferring to look at his career as a whole vs. dwelling on individual victories: ”It’s interesting to see the way my skating has evolved and the way everything looked in the '90s compared to today. I don't look at a contest as 'This was that moment where I won; I can't believe it."
“What has been the biggest change in my sport since I started? Ummm....Popularity. It's been insane and fun!"
On golf, the sport he most enjoys playing outside of skateboarding: "You'd have to drop everything and that's the only thing you do. It's a lot like skating. It's personal. It's you.”
"I still want to be able to continue to skate, be able to film, be able to go to contests and tours. As long as I feel like I can, as long as my body holds up and is landing tricks, I'll be there." (Source for the above quotes: Bleacher Report.)
“My most memorable demos? All the ones I do with Rick McCrank. He just goes nuts, so people forget I'm there - it makes it easier for me to hide.”
“What has been the biggest change in my sport since I started Ummm....Popularity. It's been insane and fun!”
“It's crazy how these kids look up to you. They watch every trick you do, listen to every word you say, go out and buy your skateboards, your shoes, your T-shirts, because your name is on them -- they admire you and they look up to you. Everything I am is because of these kids. They look to skaters like me and they are the future of skateboarding. I won't lie, it's cool.”
“I never thought I would be making the money I do and traveling like I do because of skateboarding. It all just happened.”