Our Mortal Family

Kit Erickson was a bold skateboarder. Like many young Central Coast Californians, he picked up a skateboard and found a lifestyle that suited him well, got sponsored, and turned pro. Kit had fulfilled his childhood aspirations, and had the rest of his adult life to look forward to when a non-skate-related head injury took his life in 1997. He was one of us, and that kind of thing is only supposed to happen to other people.

The untimely death of Phil Shao last August also hit the skateboarding community like a freight train. Someone so young and active as Phil is the last among us we’d expect to lose. So many years of potential were erased by a sudden accident. Phil was 24.

The same thing happened in March when Spitfire and Thunder Team Manager Ruben Orkin succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 29. Ruben had been fighting the disease for a couple years, but his positive attitude and fighting spirit seemed to be winning when we interviewed him about his work with Spitfire (“Spitfire’s Champion,” Skate Biz 10 Number 3, November 1998).

We can say it’s not fair that such people as Kit, Phil, and Ruben were denied the chance to fulfill their remaining ambitions, but it doesn’t really help.

It’s also not fair that someone like Santa Cruz and Etnies pro Tim Brauch should be born with an enlarged-heart condition, defy the odds and become one of the most respected skateboarders in the world, only to be plucked from this realm by a sudden heart attack in May. Tim was only 25, and like Kit, Phil, and Ruben, had a great deal of life to look forward to.

Skateboarding is a young sport, full of young and energetic athletes and business professionals. We’re drawn to it because we have a common appreciation for this strange endeavor, and we make great friends among other skateboarders with whom we have an innate kinship. It makes losing them that much harder, but perhaps it also helps us to appreciate one another that much more.