Legendary skateboarder Jay Adams died of a heart attack on August 14. He was 53 years old.
“My nine lives were up a long time ago,” Adams told Outside back in 2008. At the time he was serving a four-year sentence for drug dealing—after a lifetime of trouble that included heroin abuse, assault charges, and introducing a crystal-meth dealer in California to a buyer in Hawaii.
Adams’ story was first recorded in the 2001 documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, which recounts how Adams and members of the Zephyr Skate Team team popularized the sport with surfing-inspired moves they perfected on playgrounds and empty pools in Santa Monica, California, during the 1970s. Adams, “the baddest of the legendary bad Z-Boys, regretfully reflects on the way his life veered into a succession of legal problems and jail time,” according to an article in the May 2004 issue of Outside.
"Dogtown is at its dramatic best with mini-profiles of its two biggest names, Adams and [Tony] Alva,” film critic Kenneth Turan wrote in the L.A. Times. “The Adams segment especially, which shows the most naturally gifted of the Z-Boys regretful about the bad choices he made in his life, provides the kind of thoughtful introspection this film could have used a lot more of.”
Fellow Z-Boy Stacy Peralta directed the film, which won best director and audience-favorite awards at the Sundance Film Festival. On Friday, Peralta confirmed his friend’s death in an Instagram post: "I just received the terribly sad news that Jay Adams passed away last night due to a massive heart attack, send your love."