Confidence manifests itself in many different ways. For Stephen, it's nailing a front feeble in Timberlands first try and jumping on a front blunt with your eyes closed. Say what you want about him… hell, write it on his Instagram—he can't see y'all. Haters are just fans in denial anyway.
Words and Photos by Blair Alley
Who are your favorite ams out right now?
I wish I paid a little more attention. There are some dope ams out right now.
How about just your favorite skaters?
I really like Gustav Tonnesen. I'm really a huge fan of his selection of tricks. Everybody on Sk8mafia is my favorite skater. Anyone on Sour. They just do ill shit that I don't see too often. I'm tired of seeing people bite shit and do the same thing over and over.
Name an am who should be pro.
I wanna say David Reyes. I think he deserves it. I don't even know him. He's not just doing half- ass tricks. But that's the fucked up thing about skating, sometimes it doesn't matter.
"SKATEBOARDERS GET A LITTLE TOO CLIQUEY SOMETIMES, AND THEY FORGET WHY WE ALL STARTED THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE—TO DO OUR OWN THING."
When did you adopt the word "fam" into your lingo?
My first time coming back from Atlanta—when Da Playground came out. I went out there and everybody was saying it, calling me it. It just stuck with me. I liked it. It's more respectable than, "What up, dude? What up, G?" What's up, fam?
Have you ever encountered someone who didn't know what it meant?
Yeah. When I started saying it, everyone would mimic me, "Fam! Fam! Fam! What's up, fam?" Then two years later it got popular, and now everyone says it. Some people don't even call me my name, like, "There's 'Fam.'" Especially in the Shep Dawgs clique.
What are some other Lawyer-isms? I know you call Jaime Owens "J-Glo."
Yes, 'cause he is J-Glo.
What's "gloing up"?
Believing in yourself and not giving a fuck what anybody else thinks regardless if they put you down for what you're doing. I don't give a fuck if you scooter or rollerblade, as long as you respect yourself, that's all that matters. Skateboarders get a little too cliquey sometimes, and they forget why we all started this in the first place—to do our own thing. What did Big L say? "Picture me gettin' a job, slangin' corn on the cob, takin' orders from Bob." Everybody's gotta glo up someday. It's great when you can make other people see that you don't give a fuck about what you're wearing, saying, or doing. I see people who ride Harleys and dress totally different than me and say, "What's up, fam?" I'm like, that's what's up. Everybody wants to glo up someday. You might wanna wear some outlandish stuff, go out one night, wil' out and hook up with a 20-year-old, I don't know. You could be 50 years old and you could still be gloin' on up.
When did you start skating in Timbs, and where did you get that idea from?
The thing about the Timbs is everybody thinks I got ideas from old skaters, but I never really knew about people actually skating in them. I find out more people have done it every day. I hear names like Pepe Martinez, [Brian] Wenning of course. My buddy just traded me his Timberlands, because he never wore them, for a pair of my AJ Thunder 4s, and I just loved these boots. They're hella comfortable, and sometimes I would end up at the skatepark and I'd just do tre flips in them. I posted one video a long time ago of me doing a couple tre flips in them and it kinda took off. Like, "Oh damn, these people kinda like this shit." It just escalated. I'd wear them so much they just felt like normal shoes for me. I filmed a little video in them and everyone started commenting #TimboTuesdays, and I was like, "This is tight." I'm all about doing shit just to make other people smile or laugh. I've got so many kids adding me doing their own Timbo videos, it's funny to see and it feels good to see these kids taking my idea and liking it and doing it themselves. I think that's what skating is all about. I still rock the Timbs to this day. Some people hate on it, like, "Pay your respects." I was born in 1992, it's hard for me to know everyone who's done it before me. I know Stevie [Williams] skates in Timbs. Wenning left me a comment the other day that said, "You just made an OG proud, my G." I was like, "Okay, this is tight. I got a couple haters, but I got Wenning on my page." If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I thought Brian Wenning would be on my Instagram commenting, I'd say, "Fuck no, I'm nobody." He's telling me I made an OG proud? That makes me feel good, fam.
"JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE AN SD TATTOO DOESN'T MEAN YOU'RE A SHEP DAWG. I WANT THAT TO BE KNOWN."
How has your popularity on Instagram affected your skating?
I know people always worry about Instagram followers, but I just wanna make people laugh and have a good time. If you're having a bad day and you look at my Instagram, you may see that dumbass Full House video or me skating in boots—it's just a little different. They might be at their nine-to- five bummed out and they watch my dumb ass and they crack a smile or laugh and I'm like, "Yup, that's exactly why I do it." The skate game is so messed up, fam. Every day there're 20 new video parts and 20 new people skating. I just wanna make sure that nobody forgets my face so I can do this shit forever. I always knew there was a difference between being good at skateboarding and making a living out of skateboarding, and I'm definitely trying to make a living out of skateboarding off of pure fun and enjoyment from other people.
Are you still rapping?
I don't know if I was ever rapping. My buddies were rapping, trying to do their thing, so I would throw little freestyles with them. We would always wear designer clothes, so we called ourselves Designer Boys. I would post the shit on my Instagram to try to give them a little boost. It was all in good fun. But you know how the world is, they get hella serious about it. I had fun with it, my buddy Burger has a studio in his house, so if we were ever bored, we'd throw down a freestyle and upload it—you know, 75 percent of people love it, 25 percent fuckin' hate it. It's hard being a white kid who likes hip-hop culture these days. I get called "wigger" all the time. I always say hopefully someday I'll be big enough that I can't see all the comments. That's why I did that peek-a-boo front blunt anyway. Everybody's always got something to say, and I was like, "I can't even see y'all."
How did you get on Sk8mafia?
Straight up Expedition One was sleepin' on me. I took a lunch break at my old work, Sambazon, called Chany [Jeanguenin], and quit with no board sponsor. I was like, I'm gonna try to get on Sk8mafia. I just heard a little buzz that they were talking about me. I just jumped in there, went to PQ park every day, just showed my face. Any chance I could, I met up with Dan [Connelly] or any of the homies and went to whatever spot they were at. Dan was down to put me on, and that was that. I'll be on Sk8mafia forever, because nobody else gave me the shot. Board companies think that you're supposed to do everything yourself, but you need that initial bump, or that ad, that "welcome to the team" so motherfuckers know. I was so tired of getting comments like, "Why are you flow?" "You're getting slept on." Man, I am getting slept on. So I just made a power move not knowing if it would work out, but I just went for it. If you want something bad enough, you'll get it. And if you don't get it, you didn't really want it that bad. I dropped out of school in ninth grade. My parents split, and I convinced my mom to let me go to a charter school that you only go to one hour a week. I just didn't do anything and put all my focus toward skateboarding. I love skating. All my friends were getting into crimes and going to jail and ODing on heroin and all this crazy shit, so I'm out here doing it for them. All the homies from Encinitas, Leucadia, O'side—all that.
You staying in North County [San Diego]?
Fuck yeah. I'm North County 'til the death of me. That's my dream, bro, to make this skating thing a living and move to Leucadia on Neptune [Avenue], or move back to Village Park, where I grew up. That's the plan—get that name on a skateboard and give all these kids a reason to spend their hard-earned money on my board. I think people these days forget, they try to be all raw and street. It's like, "I'm 24 years old now, I'm not buying your pro board, I know your homies aren't buying your board, it's that 12- to 20-year-old kid who you're his favorite skater and he goes to his Active or CCS." I get all these DMs all the time like, "I wanna skate like you." That just fuels my fire. I'm like, "Hell yeah, you can." I'm so in love with skating, I can't even spend time watching it, lurking all the sites. Sometimes I don't know everything that's going on and all the skaters. When you start worrying about the next man's shit, that's when you start not succeeding on your own shit.
How'd you get on AYC?
Brennan Conroy was the TM at the time, and he sent Riley [Hawk] an email about getting me on, and Riley screenshotted it and showed it to me. I was on KR3W at the time and I felt they were going in a different direction, so I jumped ship onto AYC. Everyone on there are my homeboys: Jaws, Cole [Wilson], Derrick [Wilson], and Riley.
Have you hung out and skated with Stevie?
Hell yeah. Stevie is a really good dude. He's a good mentor for me. I was stupid a while ago, I got involved in a robbery and all this crazy shit. I was in SF with Stevie, and we went to one of his homeboy's shops up there, and we were just coolin' upstairs, and we just chopped it for a couple hours and he gave me a lot of insight. I respect that fool 100 percent. I'm sitting in a room watching football, smoking weed with Stevie Williams. That shit is just bizarre to me from where I'm coming from. In a million years I wouldn't have guessed that shit. That's who I wanna be. He's got a Rolls-Royce, a house, he pays for his family, he's a good-ass man. That's all from skateboarding.
What's the current state of the Shep Dawgs?
Shep Dawgs is a family that no bitch or company or nothing can come between at the end of the day. We've all been friends since we were 13 years old. I remember the day Troye Rhoades tried to write "Shred Dawgs" on the wall and he wrote "Shep Dawgs," all dyslexic-ass. We made videos and the world took notice. [Taylor] Kirby, AJ [Zavala], Riley, myself, Jacob [Nunez], everybody. Just because you have an SD tattoo doesn't mean you're a Shep Dawg. I want that to be known.
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