“Do not underestimate the ‘power of underestimation’. They can’t stop you, if they don’t see you coming.”Izey Victoria Odiase
Greyson Beal has always been on the outside looking in. People question his street cred, doubt his “core” bona fides, and generally dismiss his skateboarding as “too contesty”. Greyson is an undeniably talented skateboarder, but why is he always looked at with a sort of side-eyed suspicion? Why are people so quick to write him off? Well, maybe that’s right where he wants to be? Maybe that’s his plan? Maybe we’re all playing checkers while he’s playing chess?
“Only a fool would underestimate a man with nothing to lose.”Lance Conrad, The Price of Nobility
Greyson Beal is playing with house money. For the time being, Greyson inhabits a posh leather sectional in the living room of a swanky West Hollywood apartment. He shares the idyllic digs with two friends he met on the contest circuit, Carter Wood and Christian Dufrene, both accomplished skateboarders on their own. If you know Greyson and his humble upbringing, it’s hard to visualize him hanging out in such a luxurious spot. He credits Carter’s magnanimity for his current comforts.
“Carter really takes care of me well,” Greyson explains. “I’m grateful for what he has done for me, but I know it’s not a permanent situation.”
Greyson has no fixed address. Since moving to California to pursue a career in skateboarding 12 months ago, he has couch-surfed his way through over 10 places. Greyson goes with the flow and doesn’t fight his dynamic living situation. Sometimes he ends up in a less than ideal scene. Sometimes he finds himself in places similar to his current accommodations. He derives great benefit from both.
“It’s strangely fun to hop around,” Greyson adds. “I can get a feel for every environment in California and [when I get more financially stable] can pick which one I like the best.”
That level of unbridled optimism oozes from Greyson’s unflappable spirit. But, that can be expected from someone who has endured a little struggle in his life. Friction makes heat and heat forms a burning desire.
“I wasn’t doing much in Georgia,” Greyson offers. “I love my family and skating with my friends, but I wasn’t satisfied with the day to day life I was living. I wanted to stop talking about doing something with my skateboarding. I wanted to take action.”
In the latter part of 2017, Greyson took the leap of faith that so many only talk about. The difference is, he actually jumped. He had networked well, knew a few skaters in every town, and decided that the fantasy of making a career out of skateboarding would never become reality if he didn’t change his environment and do everything he could to make it happen. Greyson stopped daydreaming and started chasing his dreams instead.
“I wasn’t running away from anything in Georgia, I was running towards an opportunity in California,” Greyson asserts. “I wanted to be among the best skaters in the world, be surrounded by equally motivated people that want what I want. I knew them all from all the contests, so I knew we would support each other and help each other make it.”
As soon as he arrived in California, he felt like a crushing weight was lifted off his shoulders. He was liberated and realized that he could finally step out from behind his own shadow. He was now able to be more of who he actually is. Greyson is incredibly thankful for all the love and support from his Mother. But, just like any evolving kid, he wanted to chart his own course and see where he could take himself.
“Anyone that knows my Mom knows how cool she really is. You could smoke a joint in front of her and she wouldn’t bat an eye. But, to most people, that didn’t matter. When you’re mom is always around, people don’t recognize your independence. They don’t think you’re reliable or have as much control over your situation as you actually do. “
“When I was younger, I had to have her with me. I wasn’t old enough to travel alone. So, she took me to all the contests and everywhere. Now that I’m on my own, I feel like I’m doing it the right way.”
With a fresh start and no one around checking his optimism or stunting his creativity, Greyson was poised for a break through. Inversely, there was no one there to advocate for him, push him, or cheer him on. He would have to learn to do that himself.
“At the very moment when people underestimate you is when you can make a breakthrough.”Germany Kent
I describe Greyson as humbly ambitious. He’s a soft-spoken, grateful guy, yet he has an assured focus to him that seems nearly unbreakable. It’s almost as if nothing in this world can disrupt his trajectory and keep him from achieving his goal of becoming a successful pro. In his first three months in California, he made steady progress. He locked down a few sponsors and linked up with a filmer. Things were looking promising.
“I’ve had a good relationship with Chris Brown (TM at Element),” Greyson describes. “When he went to work for Element, I hit him up and he was immediately down. He didn’t hesitate to start supporting my skateboarding. Then, Chris helped me out and called Mike Sinclair (Nike SB TM) and got me set up.”
Greyson graciously recognizes both Chris Brown’s and Mike Sinclair’s contributions to his skateboarding. He acknowledges that he couldn’t take the steps he is taking without them.
“Without Element and Nike SB legitimizing me and backing me up, I wouldn’t have got the support of Spitfire, Thunder, Stance, and Glassy. They definitely came through and took care of me. One of my biggest motivators is keeping my TMs satisfied. I keep them stocked with fresh footage and it hypes me up when they see my progression.”
Even with the support of his sponsors, Greyson is holding on by a razor thin margin.
“People always ask how I have the means to travel and go to all these contests. It’s not what it seems. I make it work through the constant loving help from my Mom and survive on a monthly child support check from my Dad. I just try to make it last so I can make the most of what I get. The goal is to make it in skateboarding so I can somehow give back to my parents.”
So, through the hungry eyes of an up-and-comer, what does “making it” look like? Massive mansion on the beach? Garage full of Lamborghinis? Greyson’s personal bed of roses is framed by what truly makes him happy.
“To me, making it in skateboarding is about being respected by other skaters. I want to reach the point where people see me and my skateboarding the same way I see the skaters I look up to.”
“And, yeah, be able to pay my bills, get my name on a board, maybe buy my own place in Huntington Beach, own a car, get a dog, a girlfriend…” Greyson’s demeanor shifts from calm confidence to sheepish discomfort as if he is embarrassed by his desire for basic human needs like a roof over his head, transportation, and some companionship. His modesty and complexity are strong and ever present.
“Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you.”John Wooden
Talented skateboarders are a dime a dozen in California. Every clique in the Golden State has that one skater that everyone thinks is going to turn pro someday. And, that doesn’t factor in the hoards of adroit skaters dropping clips on social media. So, how does he go from unknown couch-surfer to a revered pro?
“I skate a bunch of contests and that will help a little like it did for Zion and Jamie Foy. But, at the end of the day, all respect comes from video parts. I’ve been working on a video part since I moved. There isn’t a release date on it yet. I’m being patient. I know your debut is the most important thing you put out when you are trying to make it. I might only have one shot. So, I gotta give it everything. That’s the next step.”
His conscientious self-awareness is he remarkable given his age. He knows he only has a small window to become something in skateboarding. Greyson isn’t going to be one of those skaters that obliviously clings to a long gone dream and doesn’t recognize that the dream has passed him by.
“If nothing happens by 22 or 23 [years old], its not looking good. I’m not going to be one of those guys that is still trying to make it and is the only one who doesn’t know the chance has come and gone.”
I don’t see that happening. Greyson lives a Spartan existence where every ounce of energy and focus is aimed at his dream of turning pro. That kind of mentality and simplicity of life breeds progress, de-clutters the mind, and almost ensures success. When you charge straight ahead at something you’ve wanted all your life, put aside any feelings of doubt or fear, and maintain a level determination that Greyson seems to have, its almost impossible to fail. How can he not achieve his dreams?
“When people complain of your complexity, they fail to remember that they made fun of your simplicity.”Michael Bassey Johnson
Greyson is a truly complex person. He is a conspicuously intelligent individual that graduated high school 2 ½ years early, yet allows you to believe he is vapid at best. He is a perfectionist though he permits life to flow freely without exhausting his mental capacity on changing the unchangeable. He loves his Mom, family, and friends, still he sacrificed their continuous, daily support to chase his dreams all alone. He’s not overthinking the fabrication of his own personal brand, yet is keenly aware that his actions are building his image naturally. He is a no-frills and enigmatic man.
Skateboarding has seemingly cleared a path for Greyson. There is an identifiable changing of the guard occurring that is opening up skateboarding to a fresh crop of burgeoning ams and pros. The stars seem to be aligning perfectly. If Greyson maintains his focus and keeps progressing until his skateboarding reaches the modern, imaginative, and insane levels it is at now, this could very well happen for him. I’m not the gambling type. But, I’ll bet on confidence, hard work, dedication, learning, motivation, and passion to succeed every time. I’m taking the long shot here. I’m putting my money on Greyson.