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Mike Vallely is one of the most influential street skaters to have emerged in the mid-1980s. Born June 29, 1970 in Edison, New Jersey, Mike started skating in ’84, citing a desire to hang with the local punks. Further inspo came by way of the September 1984 issue of Thrasher with Natas Kaupas busting a wall ride on the cover. With his first board in hand—a Sims Jeff Phillips with Gull Wings and Kryptos—Mike wasted no time taking up street skating and even vert at spots like Tom Groholski’s ramp and the Barn Ramp. At a vert ramp contest at Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1986, Mike was discovered by Neil Blender and Lance Mountain hoisting street plants in the parking lot. Long story short, Mike was invited to join Powell-Peralta’s team, the Bones Brigade, and was photographed for the cover of the August 1986 issue of Thrasher. Mike’s new sponsor flew him out to Oceanside, California for the Street Attack contest, in which he promptly won the am division and made appearances in Powell-Peralta’s classic The Search For Animal Chin video, as well as the cult classic skate film, Gleaming the Cube.
In 1988, Powell-Peralta released Mike’s first pro model deck, emblazoned with first a bug then an elephant for the graphics. A year later, Mike left the brand for World Industries, releasing one of the first modern double kick decks that directly paved the way to popsicle sticks. In early 1991, Mike left World for The New Deal, splitting a year later to start a new short-lived brand, TV, with Ed Templeton. By 1998, he had a pro model shoe on etnies. Rejoining Powell from 1993 through ’97, Mike did a short stint on Transit, then joined Black Label until 2002, when he founded Vallely Skateboards. In 2001, Mike produced a film and TV series on the community aspect of skateboarding called Drive, and appeared as a character in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 video game. From 2003 to ’10, he rode for Element, started another short-lived brand called By the Sword, then rejoined Powell for the third time. Also in 2010, Mike released his own video game, Mike V. Do or Die for the iPhone. In 2011, Mike left Powell for good and started Elephant Skateboards, followed by another brand, Street Plant, in 2015. In 2013, Mike joined Swedish brand Servant Footwear and became the lead singer of punk band Black Flag.