Crockett finds home among Aliens

Anthony Acosta

Moving back to Richmond, Va., hasn't seemed to have hurt Gilbert Crockett's skateboarding career.

Gilbert Crockett is a 22-year-old Richmond, Va., native who, when it comes to skateboarding, exudes a powerful intensity. Yet after taking up residence in Black Box's Southern California training facility and releasing two video parts for Fallen and Mystery, he experienced a change of heart about his sponsors and about living in California.

In 2009 he returned to Richmond and began skating for Alien Workshop and Vans. However, his hometown locale and sponsor-switch did not slow down his skating and he has continued to produce high-caliber footage.

With the forthcoming Transworld video release, Alien had planned to turn Crockett pro in April. However, Alien Workshop saw fit to turn Crockett pro this month. Crockett says he feels good about it and that the promotion came at just the right time, neither too soon nor too late.

In this interview Crockett tells ESPN.com what it's like telling formidable CEO Jamie Thomas you're quitting, waxes poetic on "Skater of the Year" Grant Taylor and mentions one of the only times he has exercised his Second Amendment rights.

ESPN.com: Last time we spoke to you, you were living on the third floor of your grandmother's house. Is that where you're still living?
Crockett:
I moved out about six month ago. I moved pretty much a mile or two down the road with a friend that skates.

Anthony Acosta

Gilbert Crockett has just gone pro for Alien Workshop. He celebrates with an overcrook pop out in Hong Kong.

You were also a little bit late getting your driver's license. How old were you when you finally got your license?
I was 21. Richmond isn't that big. I rode my bike. I got rides. I just didn't want to deal with it. I was getting by fine without it for a long time.

But it must have been a drag living in California without it?
It probably would have been sweeter with my license.

You made a relatively major career move a couple of years ago when you switched from Mystery and Fallen shoes, both Black Box companies, to Alien Workshop. How would you compare the experiences?
They [Alien Workshop] want everyone to do their own thing, more so. Everyone lives in different places. I live in Virginia. Grant [Taylor] lives in Atlanta. Jake [Johnson] lives in Pittsburgh. As long as you're skating they're happy. That is what everyone does. I get to skate where I want to skate. And live where I live.

Was [Black Box CEO] Jamie Thomas directly involved in your career? What was he like to work with?
Yeah. He was a boss, you know? Kind of diligent. Trying to push people to do their job, or do more. Kind of what you'd expect.

Did you have to call him directly when you moved to Alien? That must have been so hard.
Yeah, it was pretty difficult.

I would not have wanted to make that call.
Well, yeah. I flew out there to quit. It was definitely intense.

Wow. So you flew all the way out there to tell Jamie Thomas you were quitting?
Yeah. Eventually he was super cool. Cooler than I could have imagined. That was pretty rad.

You didn't just text him?
No.

Would most people fly out? I feel like you went the extra mile.
I don't know. I don't really know what other people do.

Southern manners.
Yeah, I guess so. [Laughs.]

I may even admire that more than I admire your skating. Why has Alien Workshop been a better fit for you?
It's an awesome team to be a part of. It gives me a feeling of doing what I want to do, being who I want to be. Workshop was one of my favorite companies as a kid. I watched "Photosynthesis" a lot. AVE [Anthony Van Engelen] and [Jason] Dill I especially looked up to their skating. Anyone that you can kind of tell they are doing what they want, kind of. Something different.

Anthony Acosta

Gilbert Crockett, who says he grew up admiring Alien Workshop teammates Jason Dill and Anthony Van Engelen, enjoys skating the streets of New York.

I feel like I can see through a lot of other people's skating, or the way they talk or the way someone carries themselves. Just people trying to do something that they think is cool. AVE is just raw skating. It's just kind of real, you know? Dill, same thing. Dill has always been Dill. He's not doing something else. He's just doing Dill. Same with Dylan [Rieder]. He's just doing Dylan.

You've spent a lot of time with Dylan Rieder. Does he live up to the legend? Are girls calling him at all hours of the night?
It's not like that. [Laughs] But I mean, girls love him everywhere he goes. Waitresses flirt with him when we go out. But that's about it. It's not psycho or anything.

But he carries well?
Oh, definitely. If anything he's shy about it. Which is cool. Better to be that way, than boasting, you know?

Give me an amusing anecdote about Jason Dill.
He's entertaining to be around.

Did you see him on the reality-television show "The Osbournes" when you were a kid?
Yeah, I did.

Were you excited when you finally saw him? You had seen him on TV.
That didn't stick in my mind. It was more so the skating.

You're also teammates with Grant Taylor, Thrasher's current "Skater of the Year." What is it about him that has earned the title?
I have never skated with anyone, any pro [like him]. You know when you're a kid and you see someone on video and you can't really comprehend it and it seemed like magic and you don't understand skating yet? But then when you get older you understand skating? And even if someone does something crazy, you still understand how it happened? And how it works? With Grant it still has that unknown magic. It seems like magic the way he skates. You don't understand how the board is with him all the time. You don't understand how he floats and how he grinds. Everything he does just seems unreal when you watch it in person. A lot of it translates, but it can only translate so much.

What about personality? What is "The Skater of the Year" like?
He's cool. He wants to mess stuff up. Shoot guns, blow stuff up and shoot paint balls. It's just brazen. All kinds of stuff. He just likes to raise hell on and off a skateboard.

Do you shoot guns yourself?
No. Not really. [Laughs.]

If you were as hardcore as Grant Taylor …
The last time I used a gun, I don't even know what [kind of gun] it was. It kicked me in the face and slit my forehead open.

When you came to California, what stereotypes did people have about the Southerners? Did people tease you for being from the South?
Yeah. Especially going from Richmond to San Diego. People call you a "redneck" and stuff. Nothing too much.

Anthony Acosta

Gilbert Crockett executes a stylish backside tailslide in Chengdu, China.

Is there anything "traditionally" Southern about you?
I fish a lot in the summer. But we're not a bunch of rednecks or anything. My mom is always reading a new book on the Civil War, or finding a new antique or going to [Civil War] museums. She can't get enough of it.

Obviously there is less of a skate industry, and fewer filmers in Richmond. How do you stay motivated?
I wouldn't say it affects my motivation. I am pretty self-motivated. I get anxiety if I am not skating or trying to do something for myself. I kind of like being away from the industry. It makes it more of a positive thing when I am in California. I go every couple months. It's nice. It's different. It's not an everyday thing.

Name an embarrassing mainstream movie you like and why.
I don't know. I love "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings."

What did you love about them?
I don't know. I am kind of into, like, fantasy movies. And whatever, magic and sorcery and all that mess. And, like, fake species. In "Lord of the Rings" there are all these things that don't exist.

You never played Dungeons and Dragons though?
No. Definitely not.

What are you going to do after skateboarding?
No idea.

What do your friends who don't skateboard do?
They do all manner of things. Work in advertising. Work in construction, build movie sets. They have filmed a couple movies [in Richmond]. A couple people I know saw Daniel Day Lewis. Daniel Day Lewis is playing Abraham Lincoln, so he is here. Pretty sick.

Nice. Let's end this classic skate-interview style. They always ended with a "shout-out." Anyone you'd like to give a shout-out to?
Shoot. I don't know. Everyone I know. Everyone that has ever helped me out.

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