The games made Hawk a household name—announcers called him the " Michael Jordan of skateboarding"—and a mini-industry. His skateboard and gear company posted revenues of more than $50 million a year throughout the late '90s, his autobiography became a bestseller and Tony Hawk Underground was one of the top-selling video games of 2003. "Christian should have been there," Hawk says, shaking his head and helping his son Spencer out of the pool. "He would have been the star of the X Games, and he could have ridden this wave with me."
A pound and a half of crystal meth looks like a slice of greasy Lu-cite the size of a paperback novel. Christian picked up the slab and weighed it in his hand as the dealer said, "Haul it to Hawaii for me, bro—a little aloha from the mainland." It was January 2000, and Christian had been thinking about heading back to Honolulu. For several months his friends had been telling him, "Dude, you don't look so good," and he had convinced himself that it would be easier to get off speed in Hawaii, away from all the negative influences in Orange County. He could carry this package to Hawaii, and with his cut could afford to chill out for a few months. Who knows? Maybe he would even start skating seriously again, see if the Japanese were interested in flying him over for some demos. Never mind, for a moment, the logic of trying to sober up just after delivering enough speed to wire all of Oahu. It never crossed his mind that maybe he was finally flying too high.
If you had been on that United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu on Jan. 26, 2000, you would have been praying that this gaunt, unshaven, pockmarked, wide-eyed Asian-American walking down the aisle with a skateboard in his hand wasn't seated next to you. His cheekbones, always starkly defined, now seemed to be on the verge of pushing through sallow skin, and his cheeks were flecked with scabs from picking at himself during long meth jags. Christian had smoked a few pipes of speed on the way to the airport, and when he got on the plane, he locked himself in the bathroom and snorted another line. He waved away the flight attendant when she offered him the in-flight meal.
When the plane touched down, Christian practically sprinted to baggage claim and then ground his teeth as he waited for his bags to come tumbling down the chute. As he absentmindedly picked at his face, Christian reminisced about climbing tall trees when he was a kid. That had been liberating, he recalled wistfully. You're up there, nothing in the world to be afraid of because it's just you and the tree, your weight on the branch, and you can feel, almost instinctively, whether a branch can support you, and as you step out—
"Excuse me, sir, where did you fly in from today?" A stout man in a blue T-shirt and tan slacks interrupted Christian's reverie. "What do you do for a living? May I see your ticket? Can you hear me or what?"
"I left my ticket on the plane," Christian told the plainclothes officer.
"Sorry," Christian said, "I don't have to show you that. And I have to go now."
"Without your bags?"