Nyjah Huston | The Fresh Maker? Why, Bone Density of Course

Via Issue 191, Fresh Cuts

Written by

Isaac Dektor

Photographed by

Bobby Banks

Styled by

Soaree Cohen

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 LOUIS VUITTON MEN’S jacket, shirt, skirt and ROGER DUBUIS excalibur monoba lancier pink gold 18k watch.

In the ever-evolving landscape of extreme sports, Nyjah Huston stands as a singular force, a skateboarder whose journey from an 11-year-old prodigy to a seasoned professional has been marked by jaw-dropping feats of wheels on concrete. 

Huston’s list of accolades is extensive, with six SLS Super Crown World Championships and 13 X Games gold medals in the past 13 years. Widely recognized as the best contest skater of all time, he boasts sponsorships from iconic brands such as Nike and Monster Energy. His latest showcase in the Nike SB edit “Need That” reaffirms his mastery, effortlessly navigating up, down and around daunting urban features with superhuman style.

In the 15 years since Huston burst onto the professional skateboarding scene, much has changed. A sojourn to Puerto Rico with his Rastafarian father and the subsequent return marked a turning point. Skateboarding surged in popularity, gained Olympic recognition (which Huston believes should have happened in ‘98, paralleling snowboarding). Yet, amidst these shifts, one constant remains—Nyjah Huston’s unwavering status as a top skateboarder.

PRADA jacket, shorts, and shoes and TIFFANY & CO. necklace and ring.

As the 2024 Paris Olympics flame looms on the horizon, and with the echo of the COVID-delayed Tokyo Games still present, Huston exudes confidence. He appears in a comfortable flow state, shedding the pressure, and taking a new approach that beckons back to any skater’s beginnings— he’s looking to go out on the Olympic stage and enjoy himself.

After a long photoshoot at his home in the heart of Hollywood, he sits on the floor in front of his couch stretching. I lounge back comfortably on the elite athlete’s couch and we talk skateboarding, streetwear and resilience.

PRADA jacket and TIFFANY & CO. necklace.

Do you feel like the Olympic exposure has really pushed skateboarding to the next level?
I think skateboarding deserves to be in the Olympics. As far as what it does for skateboarding, I have mixed feelings about it because, yes, it will help some more big sponsors and money get into skateboarding. But there’s so many of my homies that are professional skateboarders, and they’re just barely getting by, and they’re some of the sickest skateboarders ever. They’re getting injured and putting their life on the line to just make enough money to get by. I’ve never thought that part of it was very fair. But then again, those are true skateboarders and they are going to do it no matter if they’re making money or not. That’s what skateboarding really is. That’s something that I have continued to try to educate people on. Skateboarding isn’t a traditional sport. Yes, you can consider it a sport because we go out there and we compete, but even I don’t really consider it a sport—it’s a way of life.

It’s such an independently motivated lifestyle. Maybe some days you don’t feel like skating. How do you balance your passion versus professionalism?
If you asked me five years ago if I would have as much love for it now as I did then, I probably wouldn’t think so. I would have thought it would have faded at least a little bit. But it really hasn’t. It’s crazy—that just goes to show how amazing skateboarding is. I’ve been skating professional contests for almost 20 years now and I still love going out and competing. But even more than that, I love going out and skating with my friends.

I was a little late for the shoot today because I ended up staying at my skate park last night until like 11PM. I was coming off a bruised tailbone, and I was just skating the little ledge manual pad for three hours straight, not even doing super hard tricks, just trying little creative tricks that challenged myself. That’s like the perfect example of the nonstop creativity and the challenge of skateboarding. It’s not always about going out there and doing the hardest trick. It’s just about doing whatever makes you happy and always challenging yourself.

ALEXANDER MCQUEEN jacket, shirt, and shorts.

What would be some advice you’d give to kids getting into skating?

For so many of these kids in this new generation coming up—all they want to do is sit inside and play video games  and watch TV. I cannot stress this more to kids out there: get outside. If it’s not skateboarding, try another sport, get out in nature, go on a hike, just enjoy life, because life isn’t being stuck in a house playing video games with your online friends. Skateboarding is painful, skateboarding is hard. It’s not something for everyone.

Getting back up after an injury or a hard fall and still wanting to do it, that’s really what separates the true skateboarders. But if you can push through that pain, push through those hard moments, it not only makes you a stronger person overall, it also teaches you a lot about discipline.

Did you have some pretty big falls when you were younger?

I would get rocked all the time when I was a kid because my dad was always pushing me to skate things that I wasn’t sure if I was ready for yet. Every weekend, we’d go out to hit spots. I grew up in Davis, [so] we would be skating either Sacramento or San Francisco. And it would always be some big rail that my dad would take me to. When that moment came and my dad sees me rolling up for like an hour straight, it’s just like ‘Shit, we’re not going home until I try this.’

LOEWE jacket, DOLCE & GABBANA pants, and talent’s own necklace.

That’ll make you a beast for sure.

I know. I always question if I would be the same skateboarder and the type of person I am nowadays, if it wasn’t for those moments. I don’t think there is any way I could be. It’s funny, I dreaded those moments. I was like, ‘This is too gnarly. I don’t know if I’m ready for this. I hate being here right now.’ Then fast forward 5-10 years later, that’s my addiction nowadays: getting that adrenaline rush.

Do you think that had a big effect on what made you such a strong contest skater? Early on, having to perform under pressure?
Yeah! Definitely having to perform under pressure and also being willing to go for the gnarliest shit out there that I know it’s going to take to win. If there is a trick that I’m like, ‘Alright, this is what I need to do is to win,’ but it’s really scary. I’m always the one that’s going to be willing to go for it. And I think that made a very big difference, especially in my earlier contests here—because for whatever reason, back then there would be gnarlier obstacles in the contest. There would just be huge rails and stuff where some of the guys didn’t want to skate up. But I was this young kid, and I was always down to hop on them. I’ve always pushed for bigger obstacles and contests. Hopefully, in the next couple of years, I’ll make make my own contests and there will be the gnarliest obstacles out there.

LOUIS VUITTON MEN’S jacket, pants, and shoes and ROGER DUBUIS excalibur spider pirelli black DLC titanium 45 mm watch.

You didn’t have too serious of an injury for a long time. What do you attribute that to?

It’s a mixture of things. I was raised very healthy. I was raised vegan. My dad was very, very strict about it. And I got to thank my mom because she was cooking three homemade meals a day. Just healthy, solid food: rice, beans, veggies, pasta. Also, not a lot of sugar. As kids, we didn’t drink any soda. We didn’t eat candy. It definitely made me and all my siblings sad because we saw everyone else eating normal food and candy. But I’m very thankful for it now. Also just jumping down big stair sets, rails, and gaps when I was so small—I think it just made my bones so dense that they can take more impact than your average person. I’ve actually had some doctors look at my bones off X-rays and they’re like, ‘Wow, it’s crazy how dense your bones are.’

Where are some of your favorite places in LA to skate?

I’ve traveled all over the world to skate. Asia, Africa, Australia, everywhere. But if I had to pick my favorite place to skate, it would be here in Los Angeles. There’s so many spots all around the city, unlimited spots. I’ve been skating down here for almost 20 years now. And I still find new spots to skate. I would have to shout out Hollywood High School—the 12-stair and the 16-stair rail because that was my first photo ever in Thrasher Magazine. I still go there a couple times a year, even just grinding the rail a few times. Colleges are always some of the best to skate. UCLA is one of my favorites, USC too. You can spend a whole day there, just skating around the schools hitting a bunch of spots. Man, those are the best days.

SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO jacket, pants, shoes, and belt and ROGER DUBUIS watch.

We spoke to Tony Hawk recently for the Silver Foxes section of our 25th  Anniversary Issue. He told us that his 25-year-old self wouldn’t believe that he’d still be skating in his 50s. How do you approach longevity in your sport?

This is on my mind a lot—how long I’ll be able to go. I’ve been skating for about 24 years, I don’t know what life would be without it. Starting a couple of years ago, when this thought was really on my mind more and more, I realized I need to do everything I can to try to make myself as healthy for as long as possible. That includes waking up in the morning and stretching religiously for at least like 5-10 minutes. That’s made a huge difference in the way my body feels. Eating healthy, taking a ton of vitamins, everything my body needs to feel the best I can. Also, my buddy Chervin [Jafarieh], who owns this vitamin company called Cymbiotica, has taught me a lot more about health and what we can do to really last the longest out there.

What are your hopes for the future of skateboarding?

I would love to see it grow, and see some more money come into it for your average skateboarder to not just get by and make a living, but make a killing. We all deserve that, we’re out there putting our lives on the line. But more than that, I would like to see skateboarding stay authentic. I think as long as we have people like myself continuing to teach about street skateboarding and as long as we have the next generation of kids growing up with that same love for skateboarding like I did, we’re going to be solid. 

GIVENCHY shirt, vest, and pants and ROGER DUBUIS excalibur monobalencier titanium watch.

Photographed by Bobby Banks at Walter Schupfer Management

Styled by Soaree Cohen at Art Department Agency

Written by Isaac Dektor

Grooming: Randi Petersen at B&A Reps

Flaunt Film: Warren Elgort at Monday Artists

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Flaunt Magazine, Issue 191, Fresh Cuts, Nyjah Huston, People, Isaac Dektor, Bobby Banks, Soaree Cohen, Roger Dubuis, Givenchy, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello, Loewe, Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton, Louis Vuitton Mens, Tiffany & Co., Prada, Dolce&Gabbana