As a kid growing up in California, Shaun White knew he could always count on help with his homework and a good meal at his Boys & Girls Club. Born with a congenital heart defect, the professional snowboarder and skateboarder underwent two cardiac surgeries before the age of five. He nevertheless discovered his passion for skateboarding by following his older brother Jesse’s lead. When he took up snowboarding at the age of six, his mother ordered him to slow down, telling him he could only board backwards. The resulting technique, called switching, proved to be an important skill in the advancement of his career.
White has competed in the Winter X-Games since 2002, amassing eight medals including the first four-peat by a male athlete in one discipline, the slopestyle. In 2006, he won the gold medal in the men’s halfpipe at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. Known for his shock of red hair, he is often called “The Flying Tomato,” or “Il Pomodoro Volante” in Italy, where he is also popular.
At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, White again won gold. In the finals, White recorded a score of 46.8 on his first run, which proved a high enough score to secure the gold medal without a second run. He performed his second run anyway, as a victory lap, resulting in a record score of 48.4 (out of 50).
As a professional skateboarder, he has gleaned inspiration from legend Tony Hawk, whom White met at age nine. In 2006, White won first place at the Dew Action Sports Tour’s Right Guard Open in skateboard vert.
White currently has a full roster of corporate sponsorships and numerous promotional projects in the works, including a snowboarding video game, a clothing line and several snowboarding DVDs.
Boys & Girls Clubs National Alumni; For more information, visit BGCA.org