Nick Tucker deserves all his flowers! The San Diego native is best known for his undeniably smooth and unique style, and his ability to master the hardest, most technical tricks in the book. Having fallen in love with skateboarding at the young age of 11, then going pro 3 years later, Nick is a true inspiration for anyone out there with passion and a dream.
And let’s not get into the reality of being a pro skater. While Tucker genuinely skateboards because he loves it, it’s also not easy trying to master those impossible tricks. In addition to spending 6 to 12 hours a day on his skateboard, you’re literally trying something over and over and over, failing countless times before potentially hopefully landing that one.
Nick’s journey from getting sponsors in middle school to traveling the world thanks to skateboarding, is definitely not one that goes unnoticed. And still, what people love most is his humility and down-to-earth personality. Most recently, Nick started his own Wolfhouse podcast, and along with his brand We Are Wolves.
On the 58th episode of Shirley’s Temple, I sat with Nick Tucker to discuss his love for skateboarding, relationship with his parents, never breaking a bone, throwing the first pitch at the San Diego Padres game, mental health check-in, not finishing high school, skateboarding with Lil Wayne, and more!
What do you feel when you skateboarding?
I can answer this question like this: the reason I started skateboarding was not a mental escape, but more so it was on my own time I could skate. I didn’t need a coach. I didn’t need any type of rulebook or anything. I started skateboarding for that fact. I have the free flowing feeling of just going and skating. I go outside, mess around and unwind.
What was Nick Tucker like growing up in San Diego?
I was a quiet little kid man. I was real shy, I kept to myself. All I wanted to do is skate. Skateboarding took over my life. I have “skate life” tatted on me so it really changed my life.
When did you get that?
I got this in the Philippines, probably 10 years ago now. I was with my friends. We were on a super skate tour and Keelan Dadd was there. We were in the Philippines and we got an opportunity to get tattooed by Manny Pacquiao’s personal tattoo artist. Someone from the crew knew this guy, he ended up coming to our hotel and hooked us up. I got “skate life” because I didn’t know what else to get.
You started working with Diamond at 13 years old. How did you feel getting sponsored so young?
It was cool because I could hook my mom up with clothes, and I could hook her up with shoes. We wore the same size shoe at the time because I was so small. I was starting to get paid a little bit. I saw I was able to help her out, take care of bills around the house. It helped me grow up realistically.
How proud are your parents?
My dad is really proud of me. It’s crazy because in the beginning, he wasn’t. He’s a military guy. Go to school, go to work, do it the traditional way. But over the course of the years, me traveling and getting sponsored, going pro, he opened up to that idea. He’s real super supportive, and he’s been the most supportive he’s ever been. I’m so fortunate. My mom, she’s been down for me, whatever I got going on, whatever I want to do, she’s all for it.
You and your dad lost touch for 20 years, that has to have affected you.
No doubt. It’s different for everybody. For me, I definitely could have taken the route of oh man, this sucks. I got my mom, my dad’s not around. Oh, maybe I’m not good enough. But I use it as fuel for the fire. I stuck with my mom and we rocked, I progressed in my career. I used that as the motivation. did what I was able to do. I was able to show him: hey look. So it all worked out.
Did your parents separate?
Yeah, they ended up separating. They had their differences. I ended up going with my mom, I was a mama’s boy. I got real close to her and my dad did his own thing. Years later, we got back together. I had a board and showed him my first ad, he’s like “oh, you’re really doing this? I see now.” That’s been great.
Who reached out?
I did. I had this contest in San Diego. You know what, it’d be cool for you to come check it out and see what I do.” This would be the best representation of it. I’m competing. You get to see what I got going on. He was there and probably had no idea what he was watching or anything about skating. He was fully supportive. After came up to me like, “you did great.” That was the start of it. He made the initiative to come out and see me at that event, that was huge. Shout out to pops.
What was that Mountain Dew bag like?
Mountain Dew bag was crazy. That was a life-changing experience. I learned a lot. Not even just the money side ‘cause they took care of us for sure. But learning the business side of things and the corporate structure. Understanding what it means for the corporate structure to dip into the skate culture, what that looks like and when we’re on the forefront of that.
How does it feel to be a staple in the skate culture?
I appreciate that. I feel like I’m just getting started. I’m fortunate I have the connections. I’ve been able to network with so many amazing individuals that own brands in high places. But honestly, every day I feel like I’m getting started. I’m learning so much every single day. You’re like, “Oh, I missed that. I didn’t even think that.” Your perspective changes too. It’s cool to see where it can go.
Was going pro always the gal?
I just started skateboarding because I wanted to feel the feeling. Because I saw people skating outside: what is that? I want to see what that’s about. I want to feel that, rolling and ollieing up curbs. How the fuck do they do that? That’s why I originally stepped on the board.
Are you still getting royalty off the products that you have?
I do have some signature products out, yeah. But mostly what I’m working on now is We Are Wolves. We Are Wolves because there’s a wolf inside of all of us. And We Are Wolves is just about pushing through and persevering no matter what. Life is tough, so gotta stay strong.
And you’ve never broken a bone?
No, I’ve never broken a bone. It’s crazy. I messed up my pinky. I was flipping boards around because I just launched 100 boards. I was going to try out each board to make sure they’re all good, and I smashed my finger. But I was working so it was productive. It’s all good. It’s funny because I wasn’t skating, I was doing something skating.
I know you hurt your big toe and you were out for 10 months.
I hurt my foot 11 months ago, going on a year. I’ve been skating for the past 3 months solid, so I was out for a year. My board landed on it, then my foot landed on top of my board. So double whammy. Turf toe is what they call it” you jam the shit out of your toe. That’s my craziest injury.
Has that happened to you?
Never ever ever. I was on crutches. I’ve never been through this. I’ve been so lucky, so fortunate. I just got back on the board not that long ago.
Talk about throwing the first pitch at the Padres game on crutches! Are you a Padres fan?
Absolutely a Padres fan. If given that opportunity, I had to do it no matter what. I can’t pass this up. I can’t postpone it. I gotta make sure I show my ass up and I gotta show up.
Did they just reach out to you?
They reached out. They didn’t even say anything about the opening pitch. They said “hey, you want to come watch a game?” I’m like oh that’s crazy.” Just on Instagram. The San Diego Padres reached out, put me in a hotel. I’m thinking I’m just watching the game. I got to bring my family out. Super dope, got VIP treatment. The night before that, they’re like “hey, guess what? We got a surprise for you. Tomorrow morning, you’re throwing the opening pitch.” I’m on crutches, in a wheelchair, all this stuff. I’m thinking I’m gonna kick it.
Did you have your outfit ready?
That was another thing. They blessed me with my own jersey, a Padres jersey. They let me pick my own number and they put Tucker on the back.
Did you have time to practice that throw?
I was able to throw a ball around in my living room. And I was on crutches. I was muscle atrophied. Like, I hadn’t been moving around doing nothing. So I was fragile, weak and trying to throw this ball and not let it land on my head. Trying to catch it. Alright, I threw 10. I should be good. Hopefully when I get there, I’ll be good. That’s really it, and it worked.
How did being still affect your mental health?
It does dawn on you. It dawned on me when I realized damn, I gotta really sit my ass down. This is a serious ass thing right now. After getting x-rayed, thankfully nothing was broken. They said “yeah bro, you’re doing too much dude. You gotta chill.” So I had to take it upon myself. Thankfully, I had nice weed. Good food and good people around me, so it kept me distracted. I wasn’t too bummed out.
Is that when you got the idea for the podcast?
That is when I got the idea. Well, the idea for the Wolhouse podcast has been in my mind for 3 years now. Because I got injured, I said you know what, what else can I do? This is a great opportunity to keep my mind busy and do something I’ve always been thinking about. Also to be able to connect with people and still be in the skate world.
What I love about your podcast is both of your guys’ love and passion for skateboarding is so apparent.
The reason I started is because I am fortunate to know people who are company owners, etc. How we all relate, I’m a skateboarder. How the hell am I in this industry? In this world? Because we all can relate to skateboarding in some way, shape, or form. Even if you haven’t even stepped on a board, you can still find something and relate to it. It’s like going to the gym.
Throughout your career, have you ever had moments of wanting to quit?
That’ll happen all the time. That’s normal. You could get burned out. But I’ve always resorted back to find that feeling when you first started skateboarding. That’s another reason why I started the podcast, because that felt like learning the first ollie or the first kickflip. Figuring out how I can sit down with someone and have a fluent conversation is like learning a kickflip.
I feel like learning a kickflip is a little harder.
Someone will say the same thing doing a podcast. All this, setting all this up. They can’t even wrap their head around it.
Shirley’s Temple has a focus on mental health. How’s your metal state?
I’d like to say I have pretty good mental health. I’m a positive person. I try to uplift people around me. Obviously, I fall into those little ruts every so often. Being injured, etc. This sounds cliche. I use the mentality: We Are Wolves. I swear: as long as I can try to stick through this and hold on a little longer, I’m gonna most likely get through the shit. I’m gonna land the kickflip. I’m going to do the trick that I’ve been setting out to film or been trying to film for a long time. I use that escape mentality for myself. Overall, I’m good. Mental health is very important and that should come first. No matter what type of money you’re making, no matter what situation you’re in. Focus on your mental health first.
On B-Real’s podcast, you said you have ADHD and OCD. Were you diagnosed?
Oh, that’s a self-diagnosis right there. But definitely have ADD, I got all of them probably. Cannabis helps with that too. Helps me compartmentalize my thoughts, really the plan together where it’s not so scattered.
Where do you feel like it comes from?
I don’t really know honestly. Life exposure, being around certain situations and being exposed to certain things. Trials and tribulations, certain things happen. Growing up with parents, even down to the business of stuff. Skate politics in the industry. People you thought were gonna be a certain whatever, but you don’t want to put expectations on stuff either. That’s how I free flow.
How many hours do you skateboard a day?
I skate throughout the whole day, 6 to 12 hours. It could be all day. We pulled all-nighters. We’re out skating a skate spot, we had the lights and the generator out. Even to the point where the generator dies, we go fill it up with a full tank of gas. Like a car. We skated so long. We’re so tired out, the thing dies. As of lately, I’ve been getting back into it. Been so fortunate to even be rolling and jumping on my board again. It’s been every other day, so it’s been really nice.
How physically taxing is skateboarding on your body?
Physically taxing? As long as you make sure to recover. You have to really go through that recovery process. A lot of people, they skate and skate and skate and skate. They’ll get to the point where they have to sit down or their body’s like “hey.” Especially coming up as a younger person, as a skater, make sure you’re icing, stretching. I’m not trying to preach. Those are very important. Jump in that ice bath, and listen to the OGs. You see a lot of this going down. People are using the leg compression pants. I use those all the time, shout out to Compex.
What does that do?
It compresses and decompresses.You’re basically giving yourself a massage. It’s bringing healthy oxygen flow into your muscles and your blood, that creates a healing process. Speeds it up.
Do you usually get sore in your legs?
Yeah, I’m hella tall too. So my knees will be hurting.My legs definitely hurt. I’ll jump in those pants and it feels awesome. Smoke a joint, jump in those pants.
How tall are you?
Did you ever try to hoop?
Nah, that was my big brother. I stuck to skateboarding. I did, however, end up trying every sport. Boxing, football, basketball, soccer, baseball. All that until I fell into skateboarding, and that stuck.
What would life have been if you never skateboarded? What would you be doing right now?
Sheesh, that’s a scary thought. I’m happy to be here, we could say that. Could have went left right, up, down. We don’t know.
Can we talk about you not even finishing high school?
I don’t believe that school is for everybody. I don’t believe education is for everybody. But I do believe you should give it a try and you should really try your best to stay focused. If you need to go that path, that can definitely be for you. But for me, skateboarding took hold. I started getting sponsored, opportunities to remove myself and take myself to other places. Get out of my neighborhood essentially. Finances, being able to help my family.
That’s everything, to be able to take care of your mom.
I’d come to school and have new clothes and new shoes. I’d be giving people shoes, my friends, so it was a little different. For me, people looked at us like, “Hey man,you’re doing good. Like, go ahead. We want to allow you to spread your wings, see what you can do.” That’s the path I took, and it’s been working out. I’m fortunate.
How did it feel gaining popularity? Was it ever too much?
Too much attention, can be overwhelming. And I would say I could have reached like a little bit of a burnout as far as like, wanting to play the game, because I realized that it was important for me to get back to the roots and the the beginning feeling of when I first started. And that really helped ground me and kind of reel everything back in so I can sort of reset without crashing and burning because a lot of people will they’ll burn out, you know?
Skateboarding is literally trying something over and over and over and over, and failing.
I’m so good at failing. [laughs] Skateboarding, you’re basically sitting here and you’re trying this one thing over and over and over and over. Every try, you could be getting close. You could almost do it or you could be getting completely nowhere close. But for whatever odd reason, I don’t even know how this manifests, but forever whatever reason you believe you can land it. That’s the vision you see so no matter what, through those trials and tribulations, those tries and you not making it, all the only thing you’re thinking about is the land. Which is manifestation. To make the story short, I believe skaters are very strong manifesters because we sit there and we fail. All we believe in is the end result. Somehow, a lot of the times, we end up landing that trick.
Really? Do most of them eventually land it?
Eventually. You have to go through the motions of learning the basics, building your way up on the obstacles, then putting the two and two together. Applying that.
Do you ever feel it’s a luck thing? Or is it all timing?
It’s timing, luck, muscle memory. Magic. It’s all that put together. Skill of course.
How’d you end up skating with Lil Wayne?
Through a mutual friend. He’s been skating, he’s been getting it in for a minute. He’s been putting in that work. And that’s the thing about skating too: you could tell if they’re about it, or they’re posers. Or they’re trying to culture vult. This guy Lil Wayne has been putting in work. Getting the scars and the shinners, all that stuff. He’s in the game. It’s really dope. That’s through Keelan, he brings me on sessions and I get to get to skate around Wayne. That’s super cool. I even was able to give him a We Are Wolves board. Shout out to Lil Wayne. Shout out to Keelan.