TheGrio’s 100: Terry Kennedy, skateboarding to his own beat

TheGrio's 100 - To many, skateboarding is just the stuff of rebellious teenagers. But Terry Kennedy found refuge in that rebellion...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

To many, skateboarding is just the stuff of rebellious teenagers. But Terry Kennedy found refuge in that rebellion, escaping from his childhood in inner-city Long Beach to become a highly successful, sponsored skateboarding star. In 2010, he starred in his own reality series on BET where he balances time between family and life as an up-and-coming mogul, hoping that he can get kids on board with having their own safe rebellions.

Terry Kennedy is making history … by turning a healthy hobby into pro skateboarding career, and inspiring to kids growing up in rough neighborhoods to do the same. Kennedy first started skateboarding at 14 in Long Beach’s Cherry Park as a way to escape the gang violence in his community. By 18, he signed on to Pharrell’s skate team, Ice Cream Skating. After years treating skateboarding more as a hobby than a career path, Kennedy finally got serious about the extreme sport when he was shot twice, in the jaw and forearm, while leaving a Long Beach night club in 2005. Since then, he has snagged sponsorships from several skate-culture brands, a sure sign that Kennedy’s skating career is ramping up. Also an entrepreneur, Kennedy recently launched his own clothing, sneaker, and sunglasses lines.

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What’s next for Terry?

Terry will continue to skate professionally and focus on releasing an album with his rap group, Fly Society.

In his own words …

“”That’s why I wanted to do the TV show, to show I come from the same situation or worse as many African-Americans and I was able to prevail because I stayed true to what I believe in,”” Kennedy told ESPN in 2010.

A little-known fact …

The first professional African-American skateboarder was Ray Barbee, who in the late 1980s revolutionized the sport by adding his freestyle tricks to skating.

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