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Colourful rebel skateboarder Jay Adams dies

Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0

Jay Adams, one of skateboarding's most colourful characters and one of the key people who helped during the street pastime into one of the world's most popular urban sports, has died of a heart attack aged 53.

"He was like the original viral spore that created skateboarding," fellow skateboarder and documentary film-maker Stacy Peralta said. "He was it."

But at the height of his fame in the early 1980s, Adams was convicted of assault, launching a string of prison stints over the next 24 years.

The member of the Skateboarding Hall of Fame, who had proudly been clean and sober for the past several years, blamed his troubles in part on the sport's early years, when seemingly any outrageous behaviour was tolerated.

Credit: Lords of Dogtown

"We were wild and acting crazy and not being very positive role models," he told The New York Times shortly after being released from prison for the last time in 2008.

He rocketed to fame while still a teenager as a founding member of the Zephyr Skate Team, a group of surfers turned skateboarders who came together in a run-down, dicey neighbourhood known as Dogtown, that straddles Los Angeles' Venice Beach and the city of Santa Monica.

Peralta, another member, would memorialise the group in his 2001 documentary Dogtown And Z-Boys.