When you first start skateboarding, there is always some skater that you see who sticks in your mind more than any other skater.
After only skating for a few months, I found myself at a backyard vert contest in Georgia. There were a lot of the South’s top skaters there. One stuck out beyond the rest – he did tricks with more speed, power, and grace. At that time I didn’t know who that rider was, but I wanted to skate like him. Growing up and traveling in the Southeast exposed me a lot to this person. Everyone I met knew him or knew of some folklore-like story of his skating. I would see photos people had and hear stories of padless sessions on the biggest ramp in South Carolina. As time went on, I got better at skating and so did Blaize Blouin. He went on to win the NSA Amateur Series in 1988 and turned pro for G&S.
After skating with Blaize for many years but never really getting to know him, I finally got the opportunity at the Hangar in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. I was honored. His skating abilities had inspired me, and I had finally gotten to know the first hero in my life. He was like a big mystery for so many years. I had first seen him in 1986 and we never became friends until 1992.
When I got word of Blaize’s death on September 9, 1999 it came as a big shock to me. I hadn’t seen him very much in the last few years. He hadn’t been in the skating limelight for a while; I would run across him in different places on the East and West coasts. Each time was a treat. I felt a weird bond because not too many pros have come out of South Carolina. I felt proud to be in his company. I would always walk away with a smile on my face and know that I had finally met and become friends with my first hero in skateboarding.
Every skateboarder should realize the gift they have been given, the ability to meet so many interesting people because of what they are rolling on. Cherish it! The only downside is that the older you get and the more people you know, the more friends you may lose along the way. So take a moment of silence for another one of skateboarding’s fallen sons.
R.I.P. Loved and remembered, Blaize Blouin. – Brian Howard