From a jail cell to a church

Christian Hosoi.
(Brittany Woolsey)

Christian Hosoi had it all.

Long before he was legally old enough to drink, the skateboarder nicknamed “Christ” was a stud on the pro circuit who was touted as an emerging rival to the legendary Tony Hawk. Hosoi’s fame brought him a lot of money, parties and girls, but he also rode his board into a downward spiral of substance abuse that eventually landed him in prison.

The skateboarder known for his “Christ Air” move has since reformed himself as a Huntington Beach resident and pastor at The Sanctuary church in Westminster.

Now 44, he’s come out with a tell-all autobiography, titled “Hosoi: My Life as a Skateboarder Junkie Inmate Pastor.” At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Hosoi will sign copies of his book at Barnes & Noble, 7881 Edinger Ave., No. 110, in the Bella Terra shopping center.

In the memoir, Hosoi recounts his life as a youth skateboarder and celebrity. He learned to skateboard at a Marina del Rey skatepark and turned pro at 14.

His biggest competition was Hawk, who was around his same age.

Hosoi grew close with pro skateboarders Tony Alva and Jay Adams, and graced the cover of Thrasher Magazine several times. Even though he was underage — as he was for most of his career — he could get immediate access to any nightclub.

Then he started to drift into drugs. When Hosoi was 8, his father introduced him to marijuana. From there, Hosoi tried “every drug under the sun,” including cocaine, acid, Ecstasy and, eventually, methamphetamine.

In January 2000, reality caught up to Hosoi when he was arrested for carrying a pound-and-a-half of meth aboard a flight from California to Hawaii. He was placed in a windowless cell in Hawaii, where he was told he would spend the next 10 years.

Hosoi’s then-girlfriend Jennifer — now his wife — encouraged him to remain optimistic and told him to put faith in God.

“What’s God going to do for me?” Hosoi remembered telling her. “I need a lawyer! I need an attorney! I need bail!”

Despite his apprehension, Hosoi picked up a Bible a few days into his incarceration.

“That’s when my journey began,” Hosoi said. “It was like almost when I wanted to be a pro skater, when I first tasted skateboarding ... I said, ‘That’s what I want to be, a Christian.’”

While in prison, he not only discovered God but got married and earned his GED.

“I went from living in prison my whole life, living in sin and trying to find my identity in money, fame and girls,” Hosoi said. “I was never satisfied or content. Then I finally got in a prison cell, and by the power of God’s love, forgiveness, mercy and grace, I felt content in that prison cell. I was free for the first time in my whole life.

“I felt the weight of the pain, guilt and hurt fall off my shoulders.”

Hosoi was released after four years in June 2004 and decided to live a life dedicated to God. He became an associate pastor at The Sanctuary, the “raddest church,” as soon as he was released.

The Sanctuary aims to be a place for anyone to come. A sign outside the church welcomes drug addicts, prostitutes, pimps and others whom many religious institutions may look down upon.

The Sanctuary recently opened a church in downtown Los Angeles, where Hosoi said he is excited to preach at in the near future.

However, while Hosoi has dedicated his life to Christ, he has not forgotten his roots. He said he still skates all the time, including in competitions. He also recently reopened his company, Hosoi Skates. He is also working with a team to build the largest skatepark in the world.

“I’ve really been through some stuff,” Hosoi said. “But now I can say that I’ve come full circle from when I was a young boy, passionate about doing something great, being somebody who could fulfill his dreams and then going through a full life of ups and downs. And now I’m here, getting to live my life and having a second chance.”

Twitter: @hbindependent