Growing up near San Diego, Shaun White the youngest of four, first tried snowboarding in an attempt to emulate his older brother Jesse, and immediately showed an uncanny talent for the sport. Shortly after the whole family became hooked on the sport, the White family began making the three-hour trek to the San Bernardino Mountains every chance they could. “Every weekend my parents would pile my siblings and I the car and we would make our way up to Snow Summit to ride as much as we could before we had to go back to our real lives on Monday. We were true weekend warriors.” he says. As Shaun’s career grew the family needed to travel the country in order to follow the snowboard competition circuit. They couldn’t afford to stay at the nearby resorts — his mom was a waitress, his dad worked for the San Clemente water department — his parents eventually bought a used RV so the family could road trip and camp out at the base of the mountains overnight.
After dominating the amateur events for years, Shaun found himself at a crossroads. Continue winning in the armature division unchallenged or see how his skills stacked up against the pros. Shaun decided to turn pro at 13 and was the youngest competitor in the field competing with grown men in their early 20’s to mid 30s. Starting at the bottom again in the pro circuit Shaun quickly started climbing the ranks. At age 15 Shaun managed to win his first professional competition but that same year missed out on the 2002 winter Olympic games in Utah. Shaun missed the team by only 3/10 of a point at the last Olympic Qualifier to Jj Thomas who went on to win the bronze medal. Devastated after falling just short of making the US snowboard team, Shaun turned that frustration into motivation that led to a massive breakout year at age 16 winning most of the professional events he entered, becoming the youngest snowboarder ever to win the US Open. Though by typically at least a decade junior to his competitors — often handed a celebratory bottle of sparkling apple cider in place of champagne — Shaun soon emerged as the world’s most decorated rider.
Every winter Shaun had his growing success in snowboarding but Alongside shauns rise in the world of snowboarding every summer he had an equal passion and growth in the world of skateboarding. He was discovered by Tony Hawk at the Encinitas YMCA skate park. “Tony was my hero and I was too terrified to talk to him so every time I saw him at the skate park I would try to impress him with my skateboarding in the hopes that one day he would say something to me”. Tony quickly became a mentor for Shaun and a lifelong friend. In 2003, at age 16, Shaun turned pro in skateboarding and began skating for Tony Hawk’s Birdhouse Skateboards. Shaun would have a full winter competition season straight into a full summer competition season then right back to the winter. “Having two sports kept things fresh for me, and the skills of one sport would complement the other” Shaun went on to be the only athlete ever to win gold at both the Winter and Summer X Games).
By the time Shaun won his first Olympic gold medal, the then-19-year-old was a household name. his intensity on a board alongside his magnetic personality and sometimes outrageous presence with a huge mane of red hair landed him on the cover of the Rolling Stone magazine. One of three athletes in history (Michael Jordan and Muhamed Ali) to ever be featured in the cover on the cover.
Shaun continued to triumph winning 11 ESPY Awards for Best Male Action Sports Athlete and Best Male US Olympic Athlete, a record-breaking 15 gold medals at the X Games (he is the only rider in the history of the sport to earn a perfect 100 score in SuperPipe…twice), and multiple Dew Tour wins in winter and summer.
Shaun also continued his practice of working closely with organizations like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Boys & Girls Club, and Target House to raise and donate money for those in need. Born with a heart defect that demanded he undergo two major surgeries before his first birthday, Shaun is also closely involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and has granted 17 wishes since 2008. The Make-A-Wish Foundation factored into a defining moment at the 2014 Olympics, in which Shaun defied protocol by jumping over a barricade to high-five and hug two kids with cancer who’d traveled the 6,000 miles to Sochi to see their idol. That meeting was chronicled in detail in the Washington Post, with the story’s author noting that Shaun achieved, “The Olympic moment of his life on the day he failed to win a medal.”
Shaun’s passions for music have always run deep. After Winning a guitar as the first place prize of a snowboard competition Shaun fell in love with playing. He quickly formed a band with his neighborhood friends and years later put out a record for Warner Bros. And toured the world with his former band Bad Things. In 2014 Shaun became the majority shareholder in the snowboarding/music festival Air + Style, an event that blended together Shauns passion for music and his love for snowboarding and skateboarding. The festival has taken place in LA Austria and China, with past lineups including artists like Kendrick Lamar, Haim, and J. Cole, diplo , Steve Aoki and many others. The most recent event even featured a 16-story jump constructed at L.A.’s Exposition Park. “Air+Style really embodies everything that I enjoy my life in one huge event” notes Shaun. He hopes that Air+Style will draw new fans to snowboarding. “Some kid could come out only to see his favorite band then maybe catch some of the competition and check out the learn-to-ride area and try snowboarding themselves,” Shaun says.
Featured on the cover of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” issue in January 2016 — five years after nabbing the No. 2 spot on Bloomberg Businessweek’s list of the 100 most powerful and marketable athletes — Shaun recently moved into the next phase of his career launching in building his own brands. early-2016 purchase of a minority stake in Mammoth Resorts — now owner of the Mammoth Mountain, Snow Summit, June Mountain, and Bear Mountain resorts where he got his start in snowboarding. “ it’s pretty wild to think that I used to sleep in the parking lots of these resorts in a van and now I’m an owner”, he says of his recent projects and pursuits.