Board straight: Former skateboarding pro finds new identity in Christ alone

Christian Hosoi was the poster child of the freewheeling excesses of the 1980s skater community. Raking in lucrative sponsorship deals that led to a world championship by age 17, Hosoi was invincible.

“I got really good, really quick, and along with that came all of the peer pressures,” Hosoi said. “I wanted to be like my idols at the time, which smoked weed, they drank beer, they quit school, they chased girls, all of these things that I thought was everything in the world. I wanted to have it.

“I was basically searching for that identity, searching for that acceptance, searching for that ultimate high, that satisfaction of being the greatest in the world.”

As Hosoi, who called himself Christ and invented a move called Christ Air, continued to push the boundaries on the plank, he also pushed them with drugs, trying to get as high as possible without dying.

“I’m having to reproduce this feeling of being on top of the world,” he said. “You get the (magazine) cover. You get the contracts. You are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. You think you have it all. But deep down inside, now that I look back, there was this emptiness. It was like there was something missing.”

Eventually weary of the vicious cycle of drug abuse, Hosoi, at the urging of his girlfriend, Jennifer, and her pastor uncle, went to church. Also a user, Jennifer was seeking to leave it behind after the near-fatal overdose of a friend.

“I thought, ‘Sweet. I’ll go. My name is Christian, my nickname is Christ, I invented the Christ Air. No big deal,’” he said. “I thought God was good and if there was a heaven I’m going to go there because I was such a good guy. I was honest. I thought because I didn’t steal, I wasn’t a thief, I wasn’t a bad person, because of my good karma I would be accepted into this place called heaven.”

Within two months, however, he was back into his partying ways, dragging Jennifer back in, too. The lure of the synthetic high finally dwarfed the aerial high of his signature board jumps. With drug warrants out on him, Hosoi began to skip competitions in an effort to avoid arrest, but in January 2000, he was arrested at the Honolulu Airport with 1.5 pounds of methamphetamine he was couriering in from Los Angeles.

“I was looking at ten years,” he said. “What happened to my life?”

He called Jennifer and found himself crying on the phone.

“We’ll trust in God,” she told him.

“God? I need a lawyer, I need an attorney. I need bail,” he told her.

Heeding her advice, though, Hosoi got his hands on a Bible and made a vow with God: Get him bail and he will do the time and minister to kids about the pitfalls of drugs.

“I went to court and he’s all, ‘Danger to the community, threat to society, no bail. Slams the gavel,’ Hosoi said. “I’m like, ‘Didn’t I make a deal with you, God?’ In that moment I really made that deal. It didn’t matter that I got out or not. That wasn’t the case. It was a matter of me having a relationship with Jesus.”   A changed man Hosoi said as soon as he began reading the Bible the “scales fell off my eyes, I knew I was created for a purpose and there was a plan for my life.”

“I had peace and joy like I never had before,” he said. “It was incredible. Everyone said it was such a shame that I went from freedom my whole life to getting into a prison cell and being locked up.

“I tell everybody it was like I went from prison and living in sin and death, ignorantly not knowing that I could have died at any moment and gone to hell, to getting into a prison cell and getting set free because of the power of God’s love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. It was like I was finally free.”

What ensued was a judicial ride with more ups and downs and spins than Hosoi ever mustered on the board: a prosecutor bent on a long incarceration, an attorney who took his money and ran, a tangled web of federal sentencing guidelines and a Christian judge who found favor with the fledgling believer who found himself in serious trouble. In the end he served five years, half of the mandated minimum sentence.

“It was like God’s light was shining down on my whole prison sentence,” he said. “I walked through prison for five years, free for the first time in my life.”

After his sentencing, Hosoi and Jennifer were married inside the courtroom by the judge who presided over his drug trial.   Laying the foundation During his incarceration, Hosoi feasted on every Bible, commentary and Christian book he could find. He attended every worship service held on the grounds. He found a spiritual mentor in former San Diego resident William “Bill” Kennedy who, himself, was in the middle of a 20-year sentence.

Within three months of his release, Hosoi was preaching and sharing his testimony with young people. He found an immediate spiritual home at The Sanctuary in Westminster, Calif., where he still serves as the outreach pastor.

“I knew I was going to serve the Lord and I was looking for every avenue where I could serve and tell people about Jesus,” he said. “I was doing it in prison.”

Upon his release, Hosoi said there was intense pressure to return to the party scene. Hosoi declined, but refused to walk away from them or skating.

“They are seeing God show up more,” he said. “They are seeing me speaking loud and proud, walking around trying to reflect Christ as much as I can. That’s what I want to be. I want to be there to intercede, to be a roadblock for them that they will have to either go around me to go to hell or else they are going to have to make a decision to reject the love of God, because I am going to love people.

“God gave me mercy and grace and forgave me. I want other people to feel that. I want them to have the joy of Lord. I want them to be empowered by grace to be able to live God’s will for their life, not just this rat race of living. I remember just doing whatever I want, however and as much. If I didn’t do much, I didn’t feel like I was worth anything, so I would have to do more, I’d have to get more and you are always compromising who you are.”   Sold out Now, with the Bible fully entrenched as his filter, Hosoi said he’s committed to a life of integrity and character.

“It makes it so much easier for me because I don’t negotiate with God’s Word,” he said. “‘How much can I do? How close to sin can I get? Do you still love me? I sold out to God when I got saved.”

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— by Lori Arnold

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