Baseball has its A-Rod, Alex Rodriguez, and skateboarding has its P-Rod, Paul Rodriguez Jr.
P-Rod, 23, grew up in Chatsworth, Calif., near East Los Angeles and used to sleep with his skateboard as a child. He doesn’t consider himself the most naturally gifted athlete, but he says he thinks about his tricks and practices for hours until he gets them right.
“Talent isn’t some unforeseen ability that a person has,” P-Rod believes. “Talent isn’t in your arms or your legs. It’s the way your mind views it. I was so obsessed with skating as a kid; it’s all I thought about.”
Yes, P-Rod’s father is the comic, Paul Rodriguez Sr. – one of the Latin Kings of Comedy. And on sites such as YouTube, you can still find plenty of the old man’s work. But P-Rod dominates the proceedings. There’s one site of the elder Paul Rodriguez that apparently young blogger types commented on, saying, “That’s not Paul Rodriguez; P-Rod is a skateboarder.” Someone else on the blog corrected them. We can only wonder if P-Rod found it and showed it to his pop. Apparently, the two of them didn’t see much of one another when P-Rod was a kid, but now they’re much closer.
Paul Rodriguez Jr. is a trim 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds, but he is really busy with his feet through a “Goofy Stance” with the right foot forward and the left foot pushing. P-Rod does many of his tricks with a switch stance maneuver. He won a bunch of pro-rookie awards as a 17-year-old in 2002. Unlike some other young skateboarders, he has not gradually lost his love or enthusiasm.
P-Rod’s grandparents were born in Mexico and came to the United States during the 1950s as migrant workers, before immigration became such a big issue. One of his ethnic distinctions is that he is the first and only Hispanic skateboarder to land a pro-model Nike shoe contract. The third edition, Paul Rodriguez Zoom Air Three, is due out in 2009. He also has appeared in three of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video games.