I notice that no one mentioned Tony Hawk. I don't know a lot about the great skateboarders other than I saw their names on THPS and occasionally talked about by skater friends growing up. Why is Tony Hawk the most famous skateboarder? I get that it is probably due to the video game and tv appearances but why is he the one who got his own video game and all of the fame?
Tony is without question one of the best. He invented over 70 tricks, won nearly every contest on the 1980's and 90's, and continues to win the ones he enters now (after over a decade of retirement from contests). I think people tend to not talk about him simply because he's obvious. Like he goes without saying.
Although, his presence as a household name has also put him in a position where he is a touchy subject. People eye-roll over his sponsorships with McDonald's, Hot Wheels, etc, which is reasonable, but his contributions are endless. He's in a weird in-between position where people unfamiliar with skateboarding think he's the best because they don't know of any other pros or people who think he's the best because they are really familiar with his amazingly innovative and successful career. Maybe a reasonable metaphor would be people who think Green Day is the best punk band ever because they were there from the beginning and their early music really meant a lot to them, and there's people who think Green Day is the best punk band ever because they are better than Simple Plan, and Blink 182. There's just a funny Twilight Zone around those figures with underground and mainstream success but their successes tend to be measured differently, despite the end result being the same.
Tony still has amazing video parts and ads in magazines at 47. He was my first favorite skater, and remains one of my favorites. I've seen him skate in person a number of times, and he's unreal to watch. Not a single bailed trick. His consistency and mastery is so impressive.
His part in The End is one of the best ever. [TW real live bullfighting scene that is totally unnecessary]
New part from 2014