Desmond Shepherd

Desmond Shepherd

DESMOND SHEPHERD
INTERVIEW & INTRODUCTION by JEFF HO
PHOTOS by DAN LEVY

Desmond has his priorities straight and he’s got the ability to back up what he’s trying to do on his way to the top. At his young age, he is one of the super talented groms that is a fundamental part of the changing of the guard. He handled this interview like a pro and then went right out and landed his first 540 at the Venice Skatepark. Watch out for Dez and the future of skateboarding as it soars beyond any heights we could have previously imagined. – Jeff Ho

Hi, Dez. Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Santa Rosa, California. I think I was like two when we moved to Los Angeles.

How old are you now?
I’m ten.

Do you have any brothers or sisters?
I have two sisters. One is 13 and the other is 23.

Do they skate or surf?
My sister, Parava, surfs and skates.

Cool. Do you surf also?
I surf a little bit, like two or three times a month.

Do you surf down here in Venice?
Yeah, and sometimes we’ll go to Seal Beach or Huntington, if we’re around there.

What got you into skateboarding?
My dad bought me a little board, and I skated a little bit. Then I got a Punk Skates board and I started wanting to skate more on that board.

What skateboard are you riding now?
Right now I’m riding an Alva 7.75” with Indy titanium trucks and Bones 58mm wheels, Bones Reds Bearings and Pig Rails.

What do your parents think of skating?
My mom and dad both support me a lot. My dad drives me around everywhere.

What are the spots you like skating?
I like Venice Beach, the Cove and Belvedere. The Venice skatepark is so nice.

What do you like about the Venice park?
I like the snake run. There are a lot of hips in the snake run.

Who do you usually skate with?
I skate with Sean, Sebastian, Asher… There are a lot of locals at the Venice park that I skate with.

When did you know that you were getting good at skateboarding?
I started skateboarding when I was five. I started dropping in and then I started progressing from that. I was just watching other people skate and trying to do the tricks that they do. I did my first airs in the small bowl at Venice.

Have you been skating with Tony at all?
Yeah. I saw him at Culver City not too long ago and I skated with him.

What do you think of his skating?
His style is pretty good and his frontside grinds are so sick.

What was the first bowl that you skated?
It was probably the one at Belvedere. That was way before Venice even opened, so I skated there a lot. I skated Venice next.

Who are your sponsors now?
Alva, Flyaway, Venice Skateboarding Stuff and Smith Scabs.

When did you first start competing in contests and stuff?
I was 7 or 8. The Vegas Am was the first contest I went to and I won. I won my last two contests. I won King of the Groms and the Makaha Bowl Jam. I was in one in Verdugo. I won that one too.

When you really want to win a contest, what is your go-to trick that you do?
I do the highest backside air that I can do. I like handplants, too.

Do you ever skate Channel Street?
Oh yeah. I love to skate Channel Street. Channel Street is so fun. There’s a waterfall that you can drop into. I had huge scabs on my hips, but I learned it after three tries.

What about skating vert ramps?
I like to skate the Monster Ramp. That place is so fun. They have three step-ups and a triangle ramp that’s like a roll in/drop in. It’s huge and it’s made of the softest wood ever. You could fall and your back doesn’t even hurt.

What’s one of your favorite tricks to do?
Backside airs. I just learned 540s in the Venice bowl too.

Wow. What’s your worst slam so far?
At the Cove, I tried to do an air and my heel was just barely on my board and I slammed straight to my tailbone. I was seven years old. I tried to go skating the next day, and I could only skate for a short time because my tailbone hurt so bad.

Do you like to skate concrete or wood?
I’d say I like wood better. Skatelab has the top of the stairs in wood and the bottom is concrete.

Have you skated Chino or Peck Park?
Not yet. The newest park I’ve gone to is Alga Norte in Carlsbad.

When you go to get a grind, do you like metal coping or pool block coping?
I like metal coping because I like to smith grind so far.

What’s your favorite food? Do you like wheat grass?
No. I hate wheat grass. I’ve actually barfed after drinking wheat grass. I barfed all over Whole Foods floor. Every time I drink that, I puke it out.

If your dad said, “We can go anywhere you want. Where do you want to go eat?” Where would want to go?
Gilbert’s. I would get a burrito. I like the steak they have there. I like the nachos. That’s what I’d get.

Where do you go to school?
Westminster.

How do you like that?
It’s pretty fun.

Do you have any girlfriends?
[Laughs] No. I don’t have any girlfriends.

What’s your typical day like? What do you wake up and do every day?
I wake up in the morning and I try to go to Venice super early in the morning when no one is there at like six o’clock. You can practice a lot then.

Do you ever surf the Breakwater?
Only on the inside.

That’s okay. Just keep trying. Do you have any favorite skate movies?
Yeah. My favorite skate movie is Thrashin’.

Right on! Who is your favorite skater?
Bob Burnquist. I like his style and he does the sickest tricks. He has the most X Games medals. He’s just so amazing.

Which pools do you like to ride the most?
I like Arto’s pool. His pool is so fun.

That’s a pretty sick pool.
I like the shape of that pool. It’s fun.

What’s the thing that you like the most about skating?
Whenever you learn a new trick, you feel so good. You get so much energy. If you get a new trick, it’s so much fun. It’s like learning how to blunt to fakie. I was so happy when I learned that. When I learned handplants, I was happy about that too.

Are there any other skaters that you look up to besides Bob Burnquist?
I look up to Jay Adams and Tony Alva.

Do you have any people that help you, like mentors that give you advice?
My dad. He used to skate, so he’s the one that taught me how to skate.

Cool. Do you travel a lot and go to other places to skate?
Only if there is a contest, I’ll go there. Other than that, I don’t really travel too much.

Cool. Do you like music?
Yeah. I like Circle One and Black Sabbath. Those are my favorite bands.

Do you like wearing your helmet?
Yeah. The Flyaway helmet is the most comfortable to wear.

If you could pick any shoe sponsor, who would you want to ride for?
Vans, DVS or Puma.

If you could go anywhere you wanted to go skate, where would you go?
I’d want to go to Woodward West and KTR. Those are the coolest places. I would like to go to that new park in Texas. It’s the biggest skatepark in America and they have everything. It’s just a far drive. I just remember driving to Las Vegas and it took so long.

What do you think of the older generations of skaters and skating with them?
They’re so rad.

What do you think is next in your future?
I’ll be skating street and vert contests and I want to have my own company and a huge skate team and be having contests.

Do you see yourself maybe going to the X Games?
Yeah. I’ve never been on a Mega Ramp, so I want to do that.

Is there anyone you want to thank?
I want to thank my mom and dad.

There you go. You did good. This was cool. Thanks, Desmond.
Yeah. Thank you.

FOR THE REST OF THE STORY, ORDER ISSUE #73 AT THE JUICE SHOP…

Desmond Shepherd

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