We’d love to hear from you to learn how we can make Outside better. Tell us what you think.

The Heart of Skateboarding Has Died

Jay Adams passes away at 53

Jay Adams died of a heart attack while on a surf vacation in Mexico. (Flickr/Wapster)

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."

More Adventure
Pinterest Icon