Jay Adams

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For the Reformed theologian and counselor, see Jay E. Adams. For the Texas musician and singer, see Jay Boy Adams.
Jay Adams
Jay Adams circa 1976
Born (1961-02-03) February 3, 1961 (age 53)
Venice, Los Angeles, California
Nationality American
Occupation Professional skateboarder
Known for Member of the Z-Boys skateboarding team

Jay Adams (born February 3, 1961) is an American skateboarder most prominently known as one of the original members of Z-Boys skateboarding team. He is known as "The Original Seed" of the sport and considered one of the most influential skateboarders of all time.

Early life[edit]

Jay Adams was born in a part of Venice, California known to locals as "Dogtown". He grew up with his mother and his step father, Kent Sherwood. He began skating/surfing at the age of 4.[1] Sherwood worked at Dave Sweet's Surf Shop under Pacific Ocean Park, where Adams was introduced to skateboarding by all the surfers who visited.[2] Adams's skateboarding was greatly influenced by Larry Bertlemann, a professional surfer who was known for dragging his hands along the waves as he rode them.[3] In 1974, Adams joined the Zephyr surf team that represented the Santa Monica shop Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions. He was the youngest and most naturally gifted member of the team. When asked about Adams, fellow Z-Boy Tony Alva said, "Some kids are born and raised on graham crackers and milk, he was born and raised on surfing and skateboarding."[3]

Jay Adams skating in an empty pool.


The Z-Boys became a skate team when they heard about the Bahne-Cadillac Del Mar Nationals in 1975.[2] Jay Adams was the first member to enter the competition, held in Del Mar, California, taking 3rd place in the Junior Men's Freestyle.[3] His explosive energy and low, bold, surf-like moves characterized the style of the Z-Boys and contrasted with the traditional style of the era, which was still based around tricks formulated in the 1960s. According to Bones Brigade founder Stacy Peralta, Adams "is probably not the greatest skater of all time, but I can say without fear of being wrong that he is clearly the archetype of modern-day skateboarding."[4] Much of Adams and the rest of the Zephyr team's fame is due to Craig Stecyk's "Dogtown articles" in the relaunch of Skateboarder magazine in 1975. The Dogtown articles were a series of magazine articles that chronicled the adventures of the Z-Boys.[3]

The Zephyr team broke up shortly after the Del Mar Nationals and half the team followed Kent Sherwood, who made the Zephyr boards, to a new team. Sherwood and Adams created the brand and team EZ RYDER, which changed its name to Z-Flex six months later.[5] Adams was the face of the brand.

Adams no longer competes but is currently sponsored by Hurley, Nixon, Osiris Shoes, Z-Flex, Tracker Trucks, Vercelli Surfboards, Carver Racks, Abec 11 wheels and Black Flys.[6]

In popular culture[edit]

Adams is featured prominently in the 2001 award-winning documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys and in the 2005 dramatized film account of the Z-Boys origins, Lords of Dogtown. In the movie, he was played by Emile Hirsch, who was praised by critics for his portrayal of the original Z-Boy. Adams has recently revived EZ Ryder as EZ Ryder Originalz with Jef Hartsel. The skating equipment is custom designed, tested, and handcrafted by Hartsel and Adams.[7] Jay Adams has also collaborated with Z-Flex and designed skateboards in the Z-Flex range, most notably the Z-Flex Jay Adams Cruiser Skateboard.[8]

Legal problems[edit]

Adams has been in and out of prisons as he has struggled with drug addiction.[9] He was charged with murder and convicted of assault following a gay bashing that he instigated in Los Angeles in 1982.[1][9] In the late 1990s, after the murder of his brother, and the death of his mother, father, and grandmother all in the same year, he began doing heroin.[9] He was serving two and a half years on drug charges in Hawaii during the production of Dogtown and Z-Boys and was released in 2002. The movie brought Adams back into the limelight and won him endorsement deals. However at this time Adams failed to pay taxes for three years and then relapsed into his drug addiction.[9] In November 2005, he was arrested and sentenced to four years in the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon, after being caught on a wiretap acting as a go-between for a buyer and seller of crystal methamphetamine. He was released to a halfway house on July 8, 2008 for the remainder of his sentence.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Adams was married to Alisha Adams, with whom he has a daughter, Venice. He also has a son, Seven, from Samantha Baglioni.[9] Adams spent his 50th birthday at the Etnies skatepark in California and married Tracy Adams at the park.[10] He was recently remarried in Honolulu to Tracy. He currently resides, with his wife Tracy, in San Clemente, California where he is an active member at a local church.[11] As of 2005, Adams is drug-free and now speaks with young kids at local schools about his past struggles because of the poor choices he believes he has made.[11]


  1. ^ a b Jay Adams, 2000 Interview, http://www.angelfire.com/ca2/jayadams/juice.html "Jay Adams, 2000 Interview", accessed May 15, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Jay Adams - Interview, http://strangereaction.com/2010/08/27/jay-adams-interview/ Interview. Strange Reaction. EZ Ryder Originalz, 27 Aug. 2010. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Dogtown And Z-Boys. By Stacy Peralta and Craig Stecyk. Dir. Stacy Peralta. Perf. Sean Penn, Jay Adams, Tony Alva. Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment, 2003. DVD.
  4. ^ Thrasher magazine
  5. ^ The Z-Flex Story, http://www.zflex.com.au/about-zflex Z-Flex Australia About. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.
  6. ^ Orisis Shoes http://www.osirisshoes.com/team-member/jay-adams/ Orisis Shoes, n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.
  7. ^ EZ Ryder Originalz. http://www.ezroriginalz.com/History/index.html N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.
  8. ^ SlinkyStudio.info. http://www.slinkystudio.info/reviews/2014/5/17/z-flex-jay-adams-cruiser-skateboard-review.html Z-Flex Jay Adams Cruiser Skateboard
  9. ^ a b c d e f Edelstein, David, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/30/sports/othersports/30xgames.html "A Lord of Dogtown Reemerges" New York Times. July 30, 2008, accessed November 11, 2008.
  10. ^ Caught in the Crossfire -Skateboarding in the UK since 2001 http://www.caughtinthecrossfire.com/skate/skate-news/jay-adams-50th-birthday-wedding-shredding/ RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.
  11. ^ a b Jay Adams: The Long Ride of a Z-Boy. http://www.westsidepeoplemag.com/2013/08/jay-adams-the-long-road-of-a-z-boy/ Rosenfeld, David. Westside People RSS. N.p., 21 Aug. 2013. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.

Further reading[edit]