ENCINITAS, Calif. — To most skateboarders, time at the local skate park is all about perfecting their craft — time to get on their boards, practice new skills and just let loose.
For pro skateboarder Brandon Turner, time at the skate park has become much more than that.
What You Need To Know
- Twenty years ago, Brandon Turner was a global superstar in the world of skateboarding, known for crazy stunts and fearlessness on the board
- With the money and the fame, also came an addiction to drugs and alcohol. He fell into a downward spiral in his late 20s
- Years later, now clean and sober, he is using his life's challenges to help others in partnership with Healthy Life Recovery Center
- In 2020, he started a recovery skate program which uses the sport and the camaraderie it brings to help members stay sober
“It’s a community and connection," he said. "It’s freedom.”
Turner became a local legend in the skateboarding world as a kid. He rose up the ranks becoming a skateboarding prodigy. He spent most of his teen and young adult years touring the globe, becoming well known for his crazy stunts and fearlessness on the board.
“I connected with a couple pro skateboarders and they taught me the business side of it," he explained. "It took off and I started getting paid at 14 years old.”
Turner was living the dream doing something he loved, but with the money and the fame also came drugs and alcohol.
“I thought everything was up to me and I was in the right direction in my own mind," he said. "I did what I wanted.”
By his mid-20s, Turner had slipped into a downward spiral and spent time in both prison and jail.
“I was just hanging around the wrong people and getting into the wrong things," Turner said. "I wasn't sticking to my passion that gave me so much. The change for me came when I was able to make the decision to put my ego aside and ask for help.”
In 2016, more than just getting sober and getting back on the board, he also decided to start using his experiences to help others struggling with the same challenges.
In 2019, Turner joined the coaching staff at Healthy Life Recovery, a rehab center in San Diego. A year later came the creation of the Recovery Skate Program, where Turner meets with members twice a week and focuses on using skateboarding and the camaraderie it brings as a resource for staying sober.
“With the healthy release of endorphins and having something that gives them freedom and community, we have seen people stay clean and off drugs," Turner said.
To member Ned Gittings, who has been coming to meetings for several months now, it has been a life-changer.
“I had gotten to the point where I felt like there wasn’t any reason to live, that’s where I was at," Gittings said. "I was deteriorated pretty far and they pretty much saved me. They are like angels to me."
Moreover, to Turner, it has brought a new purpose to a sport he has always loved.
“Skateboarding makes me feel free, alive, and full of life," Turner said. "Everything in life has to offer, skateboarding has.”