Skateboarding and Sobriety Saved Brandon Turner's Life

Pro skateboarder BRANDON TURNER, 39, thrashed San Diego’s Pacific Drive in the 1990s but suffered from alcohol dependency. It wasn’t until he got sober that he broke through.

"In skateboarding culture, after you land tricks, you celebrate with beers,” says Turner. “Landing a trick was like getting a job promotion. So at the skate park, it was a constant celebration.”

The party ended, though, when Turner served a 17-month sentence for two DUIs between 2013 and 2014. He was 31 at the time, but he had built a strong reputation and lucrative early career as a skateboarding child prodigy. Prison introduced him to AA meetings and the realization that maybe it wasn’t the culture of skateboarding that was to blame for his addiction. Maybe it was him.

After Turner left prison, he entered a 12-step program and told his skateboarding friends he was sober. “They were proud of me,” he says. “That made me want to keep going.” In June 2020, he founded a skating program with Healthy Life Recovery in San Diego in which he teaches the basics of the sport to aspiring skateboarders in recovery.

Photo credit: Men's Health
Photo credit: Men's Health

“When you’re suffering, you tend to live in your head and have that feeling that you’re the only one going through it,” he says. “But being part of a community of people going through the same thing, you now have this new support.”

For Turner, that word—support—means more than just being around skateboarders. “I’m constantly checking emails and responding to messages from people who are just trying to get help,” he says. “But it’s not just about getting sober. It’s about connection.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2021 issue of Men's Health.

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