The world's highest-paid skateboarder grows up

Nyjah Huston prepares for Norway’s X Games with an eye on Japan’s Olympics

WORDS Jess Swanson
May 2018

Before 23-year-old Nyjah Huston became the world’s highest-paid skateboarder with 2.4 million Instagram followers and a Nike shoe deal, he was a homeschooled vegan kid with dreadlocks grinding handrails in Puerto Rico.

At 11, the skateboarding prodigy made history as the youngest X Games competitor. Since then Huston has won eight first-place titles. This month, he is returning to the X Games in Oslo (May 16-20), albeit less nervously—and with less hair—than in 2006. 

“After skating at such a young age, I’ve learned how to strategize,” he says. 

One such move was a haircut. 

“Dreadlocks are awesome, but not having them in my face made skating easier.” 

When he’s not on his board, Huston works on his charity initiative, Let It Flow, helping to bring clean water to India, Haiti, Ethiopia and other countries. The next destination on his radar is Japan, where skateboarding will debut as an Olympic sport in 2020. 

“My dad is half-Japanese, and I’ve been to Japan a couple of times to meet my relatives,” he says. “I can’t believe it’s taken skateboarding this long to get in the Olympics, but I’m so excited and plan to be there.”

Jess Swanson

Jess Swanson is the associate editor at American Way and Celebrated Living. She graduated from Columbia University School of Journalism. Her reporting has taken her to the python-infested Everglades swamps to a bubbling onsen in Tokyo and peeking inside a lava-spouting volcano in Nicaragua.


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