Appropriately deemed “The X-Factor” by ESPN Magazine as the sole pro-skater who will change the course of the sport over the next decade, pro streetskating phenom and newest addition to the Nike SB team, NYJAH HUSTON has monopolized the world of action sports. Bringing home six X-Games gold medals and winning the “Best Male Action Sports Athlete” award at the 2013 and 2014 ESPY Awards consecutively, he aptly remains the face of skateboarding worldwide.
Well on his way to eclipsing the iconic careers of his predecessors, 21-year-old Huston stands supported by no accomplishments but his own. The record youngest X-Games competitor since the age of 11 has collected back-to-back Street League championships (the inaugural crown included), and remains the coveted Trans-world title holder for “Best Street,” “Reader’s Choice,” and “Best Video Part” for “Rise & Shine”—only the second time in the 14-year history of the awards that a skater has won three categories.
A household name to any fan of action sports, Huston has utilized his fan base and social following of nearly 2M to ride the money rails straight into a branded empire, joining the Nike SB team in December 2015. Huston’s success has seen no shortage in sponsorships either, as his list of past and present partners reads more like a teenage boy’s Christmas list than a brand resume (Nike SB, Monster, DC, Element Skateboards, Monster, Asphalt Yacht Club, Diamond Supply Co., Ricta, Mob Grip, Stance, and Adapt Technology).
Born “Nyjah Imani Huston” in Davis, CA in 1994, the now near-six-foot Huston began skateboarding at the ripe age of five, under the scholarship and discipline of his father. While other 5-year-olds were eating pizza and coloring outside the lines, the goofy-footed, middle of four siblings (two older brothers, younger brother and sister) was maintaining a strict vegan diet and learning how to land a kick flip—eating habits he credits for having never broken a bone in his life. By seven years old, he was skating with his first sponsor (Element Skateboards) and distinguishing himself as the “One to Watch.” Accolades poured in while public interest in Huston peaked until 2008, when his father, and then manager, forced an abrupt uproot, moving Nyjah and his family to Puerto Rico. This new island location ultimately proved detrimental to Nyjah’s career as his isolation from the industry caused him to fall off the face of skateboarding Earth. His mother’s attempts to move the family back to California were unsuccessful, which resulted in the family getting separated for two years during a rigorous legal battle. While his father’s motives are unclear to this day, Nyjah’s story ends happily. Huston’s mother won back custody of her children in 2010, and committed to helping Huston reclaim skateboarding notoriety.
With her last paycheck in hand, Kelle purchased flights for Huston to compete in the first-ever Street League championship tournament, leaving less than $100 to her name. As documented in the critically-acclaimed Tribeca Film Festival entry, “The Motivation,” the rest is history. As Huston went on to win the inaugural Street League crown, he brought home the $150,000 prize, stabilizing his family’s finances and reinstating his elite status in the sport. He was also the first and only skater to do a backside 270 noseblunt-slide earning a score of 9.9, setting the record for the highest-scoring trick in Street League history. But the defending Street champ is just getting started. His rivals and role models alike attest to his almost alien skill with which he “ticks off tricks as if controlled by a joystick,” and “lands tricks the first time he tries them.” Huston is on an untouchable streak with an agenda to make skateboarding bigger than what it is and shed the sport of its disenfranchised stigma.
Upon first glance, Huston appears to be an average, good looking boy from a Southern California beach town—big brown eyes, the swagger of rap star, and a smile and demeanor so disarming one would never guess that the young man in front of them with his pants held up by a red shoestring (a Huston trademark) is in the ranks of the world’s elite. When he’s not on a skateboard, Nyjah devotes his free time to his personal charity, Let It Flow, a growing non-profit organization bringing clean water and sanitation to communities in need all over the world. Having not always had access to running water as a child, Huston has made it his personal mission to make a global impact in the fight for clean water, most recently restoring 15 water wells in Ethiopia and constructing the first-ever cement skate park in the country, servicing thousands of men, women and children.
While Huston’s road to glory has not been without its twists and turns, he only continues to gain momentum as he approaches 2016. Proving himself resolute in the most high pressure of predicaments time and time again, the prodigy, entrepreneur, philanthropist and born risk-taker shows us what living life, seemingly void of all fear, looks like, as he continues to capitalize on his technically precise and unique ability to deliver on demand on any rail, down any staircase, in any skate park.