2018 – Matt Hensley

2018 Inductees

You can’t always put your finger on what makes someone a great skateboarder. Sometimes originality, style, and character count at least as much as tricks and trophies. Matt Hensley was born in 1970 in Newport Beach and grew up in nearby Vista. Starting in 1977, his Mom dropped him off on weekends at Surf De Earth skatepark. The hook was set, and his BMX bike and T&C twin fin started collecting dust. Tony Alva and Doug “Pineapple” Saladino were among his early heroes, but in the 80s his list of favorites expanded to include Hawk, Hosoi, Gator, Grigley, Lucero, Blender, Claar, Guerrero, Natas, Vallely, and the Gonz.


He rode ramps, ditches, and backyard pools to a punk rock soundtrack. He took trips to Del Mar Skate Ranch and explored the limitless street terrain of SoCal and beyond. He also played guitar in a Ska band called the Spy Kids. Life was skateboarding and music.
Vision was Hensley’s first proper sponsor, but in 1988 he turned pro for H-Street – just a dedicated kid with lots of pop and a long-held world record for highest ollie. His skating in H-Street’s pioneering videos, Shackle Me Not and Hokus Pokus, etched Hensley’s place in skate history just before he hopped to Plan B, an assemblage of the era’s elite that included Danny Way, Pat Duffy, Colin McKay, Mike Carroll, Rick Howard, Sean Sheffey, and Rodney Mullen.
In 1991 he took a break from the industry spotlight and moved to Chicago, where he studied to be a paramedic, worked at Sessions Skateshop, studied art, played music, and skated for fun under the radar. When H-Street and Plan B cofounder Mike Ternasky died in a car crash in ‘94, Hensley returned to California to help manage and then ride for the Plan B team. In the late ‘90s he joined Black Label Skateboards and filmed a timeless part in the Label Kills video.
Matt still rolls for Black Label and supports the H-Street reissues. He’s also spent the last 21 years playing accordion with Flogging Molly, a band with multiple gold records to its name. Music and Skateboarding – some things never change.
Hensley was the no-name kid with his own original style, from the way he moved to the music he played to the clothes he wore. Simply put: He was the nobody who proved that anybody can be a somebody.

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