In his 41 years Christian Hosoi has ascended to heights most of us could only dream about.
As a professional skateboarder in the 1980s he reached legendary status dominating contests with his fluid style and big airs. "It was all about big air" he says "my idols were like Bruce Lee and stuff like that so when I would think of his performance and how he would do things it was always just a step higher and that's what I wanted to do with my skating and taking it to another level."
An instant icon, fans called him "Christ" and lapped up his "Hammerhead" pro model to the tune of $250,000 a year in his peak. A man seemingly born to occupy the spotlight Christian became one of the main faces of the fledgling sport, his battles with another of the sport's upstarts, a kid named Tony Hawk would became the stuff of legend. Ironically Christian's nickname would carry over into the name of one of the many airborne moves he pioneered, the "Christ Air," a bombastic maneuver in which both arms and legs are extended in a Christ like pose.
"I'm a person that was very successful. I became a professional skateboarder when I was 13 years old. At that young of an age I was able to be a professional and live a life that was progressive. I had my own company at 17. I was traveling the world 10 times over. I ran a team," says Hosoi straightforwardly, showing no regret" he says "what sticks out (about that time) is that I didn't have a relationship with Jesus Christ and I never read a Bible in my life."
"Hosoi was the rock star of that era" says fellow pro Lance Mountain of the 1980s, "I remember being with him in Europe one time and he had a whole entourage with him--like the whole Rocket team, and we were in a store where Hosoi was trying on leather jackets and it was taking forever. We're all sitting in there waiting for him to pick one out or whatever and I got bored and went outside. A few minutes later, the whole crew walked out with white leather jackets. He bought one for everybody."
Grant Fukuda, a former Dogtown pro skater remembers Christian's routine when he would arrive into town. "He would rent a white Lincoln Town Car, go straight to Sandy's and then on to Rainbow Drive-In. He'd order like five plate lunches and then he'd be like, 'And what do you guys want?'" he recalls. Whether it was expensive sushi or plate lunch, "he'd always pick up the tab for everyone."
But on January 20, 2000 Hosoi's high flight came crashing back down to earth, when he was arrested at Honolulu airport carrying almost a pound and a half of crystal methamphetamine in from Los Angeles. In a story well documented in skate circles via the internet and Thrasher magazine, Hosoi joined a small cadre of 80s professional skaters to have an all to public fall from grace. Christian was eventually convicted and sentenced to serve 10 years in prison, a fate that changed his life in more ways than one.
"Shortly before I went inside my wife invited me to church" he says "I pretty much went just to be cool to her and not because I really wanted to be there."
That one trip to church resulted in Christian coming to know the Lord, a decision that would sustain him throughout his stint in prison and beyond. Christian was eventually granted parole in June 2004 after serving four and a half years behind bars. When questioned about the low point that brought him to God, Christian is optimistic.
"I would rather spend the rest of my life in prison to know that I would be present with the Lord at the end of this time continuum that I'm in this body well praise the Lord, I'm not even going to question whether or not that is feasible."
Christian says that the timing was perfect for God to make an impact on his life. "He planned it perfectly so that it was so impacting to me when I finally walked into that brick wall and there was no way of getting out" he says.
For the moment the sky is the limit for Christian. Recently completing a cameo on Stacy Peralta's "Lords of Dogtown", speculation as to Christian's return to the sport has fans and pundits alike waiting with baited breath. "You know what if it's in God's plan I'm going to do it" he says "like the mega ramp, Danny Way's mega jump that's something that I want to do I want to skate the skate parks I want to have fun in the pools I want to skate all the parks all over but my platform right now is that I want to share God's love with as many kids as possible. And to hopefully bring people to know who JESUS CHRIST is or at least give them the opportunity to hear the good news and the message of salvation through him."