Jay Adams, legendary skateboarder portrayed in ‘Lords of Dogtown,’ dies at 53


Jay Adams, a California beach boy who became a seminal figure in skateboarding as a member of the Zephyr Skate Team portrayed in the 2005 film “Lords of Dogtown,” has died. He was 53.

Adams was on an extended surf vacation in Mexico when he died early Friday at a hospital in Puerto Escondido after experiencing chest pains, said his longtime friend Allen Sarlo. The cause was believed to be a heart attack.

One of the original “Z-Boys,” Adams demonstrated his talent as a teenager with friends Stacy Peralta and Tony Alva, helping to shape modern skateboarding with a hard-charging style and surf-inspired moves.


His gritty life story was first featured in the 2001 award-winning documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys,” which Peralta wrote and directed. Peralta also wrote “Lords of Dogtown,” the semi-fictional drama based on the exploits of the teenage nonconformists and street toughs who formed the Z-boys in the 1970s in the Dogtown neighborhood of Santa Monica.

Adams’ early life as a skateboard and surfing idol began to deteriorate in the early 1980s. Over the next decades he was in and out of prison on various charges, often drug-related. But friends said that in recent years he had turned his life around.

He once said that early fame caused many of his problems. “That was a big mistake I made,” Adams told the Florida Times-Union in 2005. “I thought I was getting old up until I was 30 years old. But it’s all a state of mind….You get smarter as you go along in age and you get wiser.”

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