Like a lot of skaters, Dashawn Jordan comes from a less-fortunate upbringing, but unlike some of the more jaded and indifferent pros out there, he has an outwardly positive and humble persona.
It’s easy to consider someone who’s successful and carries themselves that way in the limelight as “media trained,” but as we talked it became obvious that Dashawn’s attitude wasn’t some act. It’s been a way of getting through all the shit life threw at him without developing an ego or losing sight of his real goals.
I already respected Dashawn and his skating before knowing anything “real” about him, but having heard his story, I think we’re watching the career of someone who can be a real role model for the next generation and pump out some damn good footage while he’s at it.
You recently reconnected with your father, right?
Yeah, I grew up without my pops my whole life. I just met him earlier this year. It’s been awesome to rekindle that flame and get to know him. My mom’s been a single parent her whole life, she’s played both roles. My hat goes off to her. It was hard though, watching my mom struggle with bills, dealing with the struggles of being less fortunate, not being able to afford skate shoes, boards, everything, until I got my first sponsors.
How did you and your dad connect after all these years?
I always check my Facebook message requests and I had a message from this random lady who was like, “This is Amy, I have a daughter by your dad, she would like to meet her brothers, here’s my number hit me up.”
She started sending me all these pictures like, “Here’s your dad, here’s your dad and your stepmom. Here’s your brother Josh, here’s your sister.” I mean all these pictures, and phone numbers to go with my dad, my grandpa… everybody.
Damn, so you started reaching out individually?
The first person I called was my grandpa. I was like, “Hey, this is your grandson. I don’t want nothing, I just want to meet my pops and talk.” He was like, “Alright, I’ll let some of the others know and see how they wanna deal with it and I’ll get back at you.”
The next phone call was from my older brother Josh. We started talking, chopped it up for a minute, then he was like, “What you doing today? I don’t mean to interrupt or bombard y’all, but can I pull up?” I was like, “Nah, pull up! I wanna meet my fuckin brother!” And he pulled up with my younger brother Cameron.
When they seen me they were like, “Bro, you look just like pops!” Him and my little brother were just trippin’ out. We kicked it the rest of the night, had a few cold ones…
“I was always sad and super hurt and crying because I never had my dad to pick me up. It was cool just to finally meet him.”
So when does your dad come in?
The next day my brother was like, “I’m gonna pick you up in the morning, I wanna take you to meet everybody.”
It was a block party in the hood in Vista, and it’s a Blood neighborhood. My dad walked up, and in my head, I’m tripping! I never had any animosity, anger, nothing. I just really wanted to meet him. My mom never bad-talked about him, the only thing she would say is, “You’re always out in the streets just like your daddy!” [laughs]
Part of the reason my mom originally separated us from him was because he was in the streets all the time and was very inconsistent and she didn’t want me to grow up having that influence. She used to tell him just like, stay home, stay in, but he was hot-headed. He always tells me that my mom wasn’t no one night stand, they were in a full relationship.
Were you ever upset about not having him around?
I never had any hate, whatever happened back in the day, that was what they went through. This is the future. The future is present. I wanted to start fresh. I’ve never been the person to be like, oh he wasn’t there. I care about what’s now before it’s too late and getting to meet my family and brothers and sisters and stuff.
I was super stoked more than anything because just growing up seeing my sister and her dad pick her up, I was always sad and super hurt and crying because I never had my dad to pick me up. It was cool just to finally meet him.
Did you ever have to do anything sketchy to get skate goods?
I just tried to take hand me downs from everyone. I was skating shoes that wasn’t my size, I was going to demos trying to catch stuff in the product toss, and I had a sponsor at one point that was local and would help me with that type of stuff.
I would have a hand me down that was just no nose or no tail, all chipped up. Nowadays people trip like, “Yo, change your board!” cause I’ll skate a board ‘til it’s beat down and still get it done. That’s just where I came from.
I remember with bolts, I didn’t know how to fix them so I went to AutoZone across the street from the apartments I lived at and put a little lock nut on it from there ‘cause I didn’t know anything, but it got the job done for a minute [laughs].
“I been to parties that got shot up, I’ve been in cars that got shot up.
I went through a lot.”
What was your neighborhood like you grew up in?
I never lived in crazy, crazy bad areas. My mom was not about to have us in the ghetto, so I was thankful for that, but I was still around it all. All my cousins gangbanged and stuff like that. I hung out with them when I started to get a little bit older and going to parties with them. There was some stuff I got into, I’m not gonna lie, but they made sure my hands were clean.
I been to parties that got shot up, I’ve been in cars that got shot up. Before I was born, my grandpa on my mom’s side died to gun violence. I went through a lot. I don’t ever carry it, I just learned and saw all that early and how shit wasn’t worth it. That’s how I became groomed into trying to be humble and positive because any moment your life could be taken away from you, and I experienced that. I literally went through that plenty of times.
God really watched over me, bro. I thank him for everything, he kept me here for a reason and I don’t take anything in life light-hearted. Any bullshit that comes with what I’m trying to do, if I love it and I’m putting my heart into it and you bring any bullshit to me, it really bothers and affects me.
But anywhere you go, if you skate, you get love. You can be in a bad neighborhood and just because you have a board with you, that’s the thing that saves your life.
Are you religious?
Yeah, my family is Christian. They’re not the type of people that are like, you can’t go out until you say your prayers. They just understand that at the end of the day, God does work. I went to church every weekend [laughs]. I do pray. I try to do it in a consistent way. Not only when I need him, but all the time. I try to pray every night before I go to bed, thanking God for keeping me alive another day, for my family’s health and just remembering that I appreciate the work he’s doing in my life.
Do you ever feel like skating is anti-religious?
I remember one of my first skate trips a homie rolled up a little joint with bible paper. To me, I was just like, “You crazy bro!” [laughs]. I’ve never been the type to be like, “This kid is horrible I can’t hang around you,” I was just like, “You crazy, I can’t believe you did that [laughs].”
You’re going to be in the Olympics next summer in Tokyo. Given all the protesting that’s going on here, do you have any hesitations about representing America on the global stage?
It’s bigger than just clout to me. It’s my voice being able to be heard by more people and me wanting to use my voice to uplift and empower people. Having that platform and more eyes on you is way more beneficial than any dollar amount. You could have the most money in the world and still not be happy.
I know America is not really looking the best right now, but a lot of people are waking up and starting to really be respectful to everybody around them and do more research on everybody’s story. I feel like we’re finally taking the time to really get educated on things that are destroying or tearing apart the world. I feel like if we could get everybody on the same tip and really educate themselves to help and not tear down.
Are you looking forward to the weird shit like the panty vending machines and cuddle cafes in Tokyo?
Not really, I got a girl [laughs]. She’s gonna be with me so any shenanigans like that, my girlfriend entertains me enough [laughs]. I don’t know, but some other stuff I saw was like go-karts on Mario themed tracks and stuff like that. That kind of stuff I think would be sick and fun, but not all that other shenanigans [laughs].
If money wasn’t such a big part of contests, do you think you’d still skate them?
Honestly, I went through a point where I was skating in contests and I didn’t even really know about the money part. I just thought skating contests was beast, and the fact of struggling for a year and you land a run that you didn’t think you could land, that’s always what excited me.
I really learned about the effect of all the money when I won my first Street League in Chicago. I’m not going to lie, I was getting comfortable. I thought I was killing it. I got more money than I had ever had in my possession. I had a realization the next year that I was around people who were hungry. I was hungry too, but I had this weird mentality like, “I’m good. I’m in here. I won before.” That was the wrong mentality. I did so badly the next couple of years so I had to slap myself in the face like, “Yo, what are you doing?” There’s no growth and it’s no fun when you do it for the money.
Mike Sinclair told me he makes bets to motivate people to get stuff done on trips. Have you ever been in on one of those?
Oh yeah, but we do it with Reese’s cups [laughs]. Me and Mike got a thing where it’s like, “If I don’t land this, I got you on four cups!” We were on a trip once and I kept betting cups, like, “Alright Mike, four more cups right here. 16 cups if I don’t get this nollie heel!”
It got all the way up to 72 cups. Believe it or not, we were on a trip in North Carolina and I Amazon’d 72 Reese’s cups to his room. They came in a big ass cooler. Mike was laying all over the Reese’s [laughs].
What else is occupying your time these days during quarantine?
I’ve been chilling, working out, and filming. Actually, I’ve had a part that’s been done for a while but I’ve kinda been slowing up on the process of putting it out because I thought it was selfish to put a part out and be like “Look at me!” when a lot of people are dealing with the sad stuff. Losing family members and stuff. I want to be respectful of that and I also started filming for another part.
I also make music so I’ve been spending more time on that. I’ve been trying to do things that I’ve never really had time to do.
I heard the song you dropped, I actually enjoyed it.
That track was a funny type of feel-good song. I love Jamaica and dance hall music, I was like, yo, in a time like now, I think people would find joy out of it. It’s a funny song about White Claw. I like drinking White Claw, people like White Claw, it’s a fun summer jam, so why not put it out and break the ice about me making music?
We all know it’s very touchy and risky coming out saying you make music and trying to merge that with whatever you’re doing, whether it’s football, basketball, whatever. There are a lot of opinions and politics that come behind that. But that was my way of putting something out that people wouldn’t expect. When people say they’re making music you automatically assume it’s some hard hip hop or a trap song.
My whole thing is like, okay if so and so could be in a rock band and skate and people are stoked, why can’t someone else try to rap or do R&B? Why does that get hated on? If it’s good it’s good, if it’s bad it’s bad. Don’t judge someone for what they want to do.
“We all know it’s very touchy and risky coming out saying you make music and trying to merge that with whatever you’re doing.”
How many White Claws is the perfect amount to skate to?
[Laughs] Probably about three. I like mango. Black cherry goes hard too, though!
If White Claw started a skate company would you ride for it?
Oh yeah! I mean I don’t drink a lot, but they’re a cool vibe. If you’re at the pool or something. I would try to shape it to me a bit more where it’s not just like, “Drink, drink, drink!” I don’t want to represent anything that’s like, “Get drunk off Claws!” but I would definitely ride for the team [laughs].
Have you worked with other skaters on music?
I haven’t yet. Me and Nak [Smith] have talked about making songs together. We tap in like every once in a while. I want to get to a point where every skater who loves making music, like let’s just do it. I talk to Zion [Wright], he likes to make music but he’s still kind of nervous to put stuff out.
Nak was the first and people tripped when Nak was real about doing it. He was really paving the way for people to be more confident and do what they love to do, and that’s important. A lot of people stunt their own growth and put themselves in dark places and care too much.
It became a thing where like, “You’re tripping if you want to make music. Let’s just skate.” Like bro, stop telling me that. If somebody is dropping music and they love it, it could make them an even better skate because now they have that baggage of being scared off their back and now they’re more confident.
You’re one of the few pros who has an agent. How come?
My whole perspective on that is, you can’t do everything by yourself. I don’t care who you are, if you’re Superman or what, if you went to school for it or whatever, it’s all about experience. People have to eat and have to be taken care of, and if you’re too much of a nice guy people will run over you.
In the beginning, she was like, “I’ll take care of more of the corporate stuff, I’ll let you handle the others because those relationships are way different.” I like that a lot. It’s really important to have someone who knows the game and knows how to read over contracts because people get screwed over all the time. It’s not about getting an agent because, “I need an agent because I’m the best there is and I deserve this.” But mine was like, “I want to work hard for the rest of my life. I want to make sure when a contract comes up I have someone in my best interest and they can read over it and make sure I’m getting taken care of in the best way.”
“If you’re too much of a nice guy people will run over you.”
When you turned pro you had your party at a roller rink, right? Is that something you’re super into?
Oh yeah, I used to always go roller skating when I was younger living in Tucson [Arizona]. We would skate, and they would have what they called “sock hops” where you take your skates off and come back on the dance floor in your socks and dance, then go back to skating all night.
I just always loved roller skating, it’s just something about getting on the rink and just like vibin’, you know what I mean? I’ve done it for years. I still do it.
Did anyone there surprise you with how good they were at it?
I would say Sinclair definitely surprised me. He talked about it a lot so it was cool to finally see him in skates. Ishod [Wair] was good at roller skating, of course. I can’t remember if [Eric] Koston got on for a little bit. [Alex] Midler’s crazy ass, he was good at it. He was going crazy.
Did kids ever give you shit or tease you for being into it when you were younger?
Nuh uh, when I was young in Tucson that was the place to be! Every weekend, everyone was there, it was poppin’. I was going all the time until when I was like 15. I was still going after that, but I was starting to get really into skating and going to the skate park.
Have you ever taken a date there?
Nah, I always tried to get at girls at the roller rink [laughs] dancing and stuff. Little twerk song comes on and you’d dance with girls as a youngin’. That was kind of what it was about, just dancing with girls, and if you get the number you get the number.
What does skating need more of in your opinion?
I would say genuine acts of caring and loving each other and accepting more people. Being encouraging and giving people more of a chance to express themselves and be them. Somebody being able to come out about rapping, singing, playing sports, that can really be that next step to them being mentally happy and can unleash a whole other level of their skating and them as a person. I wanna do as much to let people know that it’s ok.
And what does skating need less of then?
Maybe like… capitalizing on people who are drinking a lot or displaying these images of things that are not things you can grow from, you know what I mean? We have a big influence over the world. A huge one. I feel like we need to be mindful of that for kids and the generation to come.
I feel like boosting those types of images is what needs to stop, bottom line. I get that it’s a part of the culture, and that’s ok, nobody is saying that it shouldn’t be part of the culture, but it should be framed better than it being something like, “Oh man, he’s funny! He’s always drunk or high!” It’s not funny. We’ve experienced a lot of sad things in skating because of that and it shouldn’t take that to be a wake-up call.
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August 19, 2020 12:29 pm
props to dashawn. good head on his shoulders. eli reed and him should do a dance hall. rrrrrrrrrrrrip it uppp!
August 19, 2020 5:31 pm
August 20, 2020 12:28 pm
I don’t know man. I’m getting a heavy “all you need is love” vibe. Skating needs more Tim Gavin, James Kelch & Ricky Oyola type assholes who keep it real. Help filter out the kooks. Not necessarily “cool guys” in dickies, but real g’s who demand respect. People are quickly forgetting the unspoken skateboarding and etiquette. Yes…these “rules” exist for a reason. Don’t like it, don’t skate. It isn’t (and shouldn’t be) for everybody.
Or maybe I’m a jaded old dummy from the mid 90s that romanticizes the intimidation from older heads, and idealizes the value of acceptance.
August 20, 2020 5:13 pm
You can idealize the value of acceptance and also be a nice and empathic guy that cares for others and your immediate community- they dont have to be exclusive. Respect your OGs and also know thats skating is different and more inclusive and attracting more people from all slices of life who can demand respect in different ways than we used to. Sure some people are going to come and be lame but seeing people be nice especially with Jordan’s history is sick as fuck.
August 21, 2020 1:08 pm
you are 100% correct! you are an old dummy. the fact that you would try to dis him for having an “all you need is love” vibe is peak kook-dom. just do you, and quit worrying about what everyone else is doing.
August 21, 2020 3:35 pm
Yeah what skateboarding needs is more crackheads, junkies, blackout alcoholics, and all around pieces of shit. Okay.
August 22, 2020 10:54 am
I got these cheese burgers man
August 21, 2020 10:34 am
solid fucking dude…enjoyed this interview.