Legendary Skateboarder Gabriel Rodriguez Passes Away at Age 46

2019 has been a rough year for skateboarding. Gabriel Rodriguez is the fourth cultural icon to pass away this year following Jake Phelps, P-Spliff, and Ben Raemers. He was 46.

Rodriguez was born in Los Angeles, and was a pioneer of schoolyard picnic table skating. He was discovered by Stacy Peralta in the late ‘80s alongside Paulo Diaz, Rudy John Johnson, and Guy Mariano, and first appeared in the L.A. Boys section of Ban This in 1989. He would later go on to skate for 101 and Chocolate before retiring from professional skateboarding in the early 2000s.

Rodriguez is best known for his part in Chocolate’s Las Nueve Vidas De Paco [1995]; and Guy Mariano has credited him as being his original inspiration in skateboarding in numerous interviews over the past decade.

This tragic news broke yesterday via Instagram. As of this writing, we are unsure of the cause of his death. We’ll update as more details become available.

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Of all the memories from my stint at @powellperalta, circa 1989-1991, those that remain the most intact relate to my experiences with the “LA Boys,” aka @gabrielrodriguez_sk8 @rudyjohnson @guymariano and Paolo Diaz. When they first arrived on the amateur team scene, I often skate chauffeured them back and forth from Santa Barbara and LA, letting them crash at my apartment to go skate the Powell parking lot ramps and La Colina schoolyard on the weekends, and was constantly dropped-in-jaw at how they were defining the next generation of street skating. It was all so pure at the time—living only to skate in that rare window where nothing else matters but skating—so I still vividly remember the night Gabriel called me to say that Guy and Rudy had been hanging out with Mark Gonzales and were going to quit to ride for Blind. This was devastating to hear, because I knew it signaled the beginning of an end. Gabriel was conflicted, not wanting to disappoint Stacy, so he stayed on Powell for just a bit longer—or at least long enough for a knee-jerk reaction at the company with a rushed attempt at giving him a pro model. There was little thought put into a graphic… CR Stecyk basically ripped a panel off a cardboard box and had me copy the bar code and add Gabriel’s name and the requisite branding. A paper mock up of the graphic was then made on what was proposed to be a metallic gold board along with a few printed T-shirt samples (photo evidence above). Ultimately, I think this all freaked out Gabriel, and it wasn’t long thereafter that he flew the corporate coop to join Natas’s fledgling 101 team under the same Rocco roof as his friends. Fortunately I was able to join them there as well in time, where I was honored to contribute a small piece to his graphic legacy in skateboarding. In a weird way this all still feels like yesterday to me, making today’s news of Gabriel’s passing all the more shocking and heartbreaking. My sincere condolences to all his family and friends. #ripgabrielrodriguez

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Image Via Memory Screen