Jay Adams

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For the Christian theologian and counselor, see Jay E. Adams. For the Texas musician and singer, see Jay Boy Adams.
Jay Adams
Jay Adams 2011.jpg
Adams in 2011
Born Jay J Adams
(1961-02-03)February 3, 1961
Venice, Los Angeles, California
Died August 15, 2014(2014-08-15) (aged 53)
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico
Nationality American
Occupation Professional skateboarder
Known for Member of the Z-Boys skateboarding team

Jay J Adams (February 3, 1961 – August 15, 2014) was 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. Adams died of a heart attack on August 15, 2014.[1][2]

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 stepfather, Kent Sherwood. He began skating and surfing at the age of four.[3] 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][4] Adams' skateboarding was greatly influenced by Larry Bertlemann, a professional surfer who was known for dragging his hands along the waves as he rode them.[5] In 1974, Adams became the youngest member to join the Zephyr surf team that represented the Santa Monica shop Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions.[2] 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."[5]


The Z-Boys became a skate team when they heard about the Bahn-Cadillac Del Mar Nationals in 1975.[6] Jay Adams was the first member to enter the competition, held in Del Mar, California, taking 2nd place in the Junior Men's Freestyle.[5] 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."[7] 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, riding empty swimming pools in Southern California over a two-year period, which is said to have laid the foundations for vertical skateboarding.[2][5][8]

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.[9] Adams was the face of the brand.[10]

Adams was sponsored by Hurley, Nixon, Osiris Shoes, Z-Flex, Tracker Trucks, Vercelli Surfboards, Carver Racks, Abec 11 wheels and Black Flys.[11]

Adams was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame in 2012.[12]

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.[13] In the movie, he was played by Emile Hirsch, who was praised by critics for his performance.[citation needed] Adams had recently revived EZ Ryder as EZ Ryder Originalz with Jef Hartsel, and had custom designed, tested, and handcrafted their own equipment.[14] Jay Adams had also collaborated with Z-Flex and designed skateboards in the Z-Flex range, most notably the Z-Flex Jay Adams Cruiser Skateboard.[15] Adams also featured in 2010 movie The Westsiders

Legal problems[edit]

Adams spent time in prisons as he struggled with drug addiction.[16] In 1982, he was charged with murder but convicted of assault following a fight he instigated in Los Angeles which led to the death of Dan Bradbury. Adams served 6 months in prison for the assault.[13] 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 using heroin.[16] 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 led to endorsement deals for him. [16] In November 2005, he was arrested and sentenced to four years, 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. He completed his probation in January of 2014.[8][13][16]

Personal life[edit]

Adams' first wife was Alisha Adams, with whom he had a daughter, Venice. He also has a son, Seven, with ex-girlfriend Samantha Baglioni.[13][16]

Adams married Tracy Adams in 2011.[17] They most recently resided in San Clemente, California, where Adams was an active member at a local church.[8][18][19]

As of 2005, Adams was drug-free and spoke to children at local schools about his past struggles.[8]


Adams died of a heart attack on August 15, 2014.[20]


  1. ^ "Jay Adams Dead -- Legendary Skater Dies of Heart Attack". TMZ. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Jay Adams, Who Revolutionized Skateboarding, Dies at 53". The New York Times. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Jay Adams – Interview". Juice (skateboarding magazine). Retrieved February 1, 2000.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ "Jay Adams – Interview". Strange Reaction. EZ Ryder Originalz. August 27, 2010. Retrieved December 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Juice Magazine: Dogtown Chronicles: Jay Adams". Juice (skateboarding magazine). Retrieved February 2, 2002. 
  7. ^ "Jay Adams". Angelfire.com. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Jay Adams: The long ride of a Z-Boy". Westside People. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  9. ^ "About". Zflex.com.au. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  10. ^ Dickey, Josh (August 15, 2014). "Original 'Z-Boys' Skater Jay Adams Dead at 53". Mashable. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Osiris Shoes". Osirisshoes.com. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  12. ^ Connelly, Laylan (August 21, 2014). "Original Z-Boy influenced skating, surfing worlds". Huntington Beach Wave (The Orange County Register). p. 8. 
  13. ^ a b c d Higgins, Matt (July 31, 2008). "Skateboarding is not a crime". Outside Magazine. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  14. ^ "EZ Ryder Originalz - HISTORY / INFO". Ezroriginalz.com. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Z-Flex Jay Adams Cruiser Skateboard Review - Reviews - Slinky Studio". Slinkystudio.info. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c d e Edelstein, David, "A Lord of Dogtown Reemerges". The New York Times. July 30, 2008, accessed November 11, 2008.
  17. ^ "Jay Adams 50th Birthday Wedding shredding - Skateboarding News - Caught in the Crossfire". Caughtinthecrossfire.com. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Jay Adams Wedding/50th Birthday". Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Jay Adams 50th Birthday Party". Juice Magazine. April 16, 2011. Retrieved September 13, 2014. 
  20. ^ Southern California Public Radio. "Original Dogtown Z-Boy skateboarder Jay Adams dies at 53 - 89.3 KPCC". Southern California Public Radio. Retrieved October 22, 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

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