Words and interview by Zach Baker
I’ve recently put off going skateboarding to: eat pho; be hungover; sleep; watch The Waterboy; stare at a screen all day doing nothing; be horny; hit the streets with dreams of sex that result in merely passing out on the subway until seven the next morning. I’m sure you have excuses that are even more legitimate. I bet you work all the time, or your girl likes to day drink and do brunch on weekends. Everyone has excuses and they all stink.
If you’re not familiar with the recent Insta-celebrity of @jscott_handsdown, you’re in for a treat. He has around 10k followers due to his frequent, highly-inspirational posts. Whether it’s in his tiny garage or the rusty local skatepark, he manages to skate more hours a day than even the most unemployable New York skateboarder, while working a schedule more grueling than any legal U.S. citizen’s should be. J. Scott’s motivation is simple and pure: he does it for the love of his family. I caught him one Monday morning as he was getting home from his graveyard shift.
What’s your name, how old are you, and where are you from?
My name is Joseph Scott. I’m from Fort Austin, Texas and I’m 26 years old.
Where do you work?
I work at Exxon Mobil. It’s a local refinery in Beaumont, Texas. I’m a painter, or, I’m what’s called a painter. I sandblast the tanks at the refinery, and any tanks that corrode, we do all the repair work on those.
How long have you been skating?
Four years. I was painting blast at the refinery, and I just happened to get off early one day. I saw a little white kid on a skateboard grinding a rail outside. I was interested and said to myself, “I wanna try this.” I was grocery shopping and saw some fake board, I think it was a Mountain Dew board. I picked it up, rolled on it, and ever since then I’ve had a love and passion for it. I bought the fake board and ever since then, I’ve been skating. That’s all I live for now. Trying to learn tricks is challenging and gives me something to do, and I love it.
What skaters get you the most hyped?
When I really got into watching skate videos, my favorite guy was Terry Kennedy. I didn’t see black skaters where I was. I’d see white guys and Mexican guys doing it, but when I started to know more about skateboarding, I saw that actually, all races and nationalities are skateboarding worldwide.
Tell me about the hands down.
When I first started skateboarding, I was trying to learn crooked grinds, and I was just wild with my hands, man. I would see other people do their crooked grinds and they would just roll away. I was like, “Hold up, why am I always using my hands when I do my damn tricks? From this day forward, I ain’t using no more hands. My name is Mr. Hands Down.” Before you knew it, after skateboarding for about a half hour, I started learning tricks, and I decided I’m not using my hands no more. I keep ‘em by my sides.
Who are some of the people whose hands you look the most down to?
I’m gonna have to say Antwuan. When I seen him skate, I said, “Wow, he’s part of the team, he doesn’t use his hands at all!”
Social media has been pretty good to you over a pretty short period of time.
I’m just being me. Just me and my wife. My wife really motivates me. When I try to make excuses like “I’m tired,” she says, “Well that ain’t got nothing to do with it. You’re gonna get your ass up on that skateboard.” I feel that the average black woman might be like, “I don’t know what you skateboard for, that’s for white boys.” But I thank God for my wife because she’s very supportive.
She’ll sit there and watch me with the kids, and it got to the point where she knew the trick without me even telling her, like, “Bae: give me a clean 360 flip with the hands down.” Ever since then I had to put a ring on it.
You just got married, right?
About 5 months ago. I’m big on family. I like spending time with my family and kids. My stepson is six, we got a one-year-old, and my wife’s pregnant right now. I’m very happy with what I’ve got right now.
What do you want out of skateboarding? What’s the end goal?
Personally, I do it for the love of it. If I had the opportunity where a window opens so that I could be sponsored and work for somebody, or own my own Hands Down brand — I’m all for it. I just want to be a part of skateboarding for the rest of my life. That’s why I put the work in.
I see some companies have been flowing you some gear.
I’m just being me and doing me. Before I knew it, I saw pros hashtagging #handsdown and tagging me. I have a family, I go to work 12 hours a day, and whether I’m working nights or days, I still find time to spend time with my family — and skate. That’s why they support it.
When they sent me the gear, I didn’t believe it. Me and my wife cried in celebration. When I got the DGK package and the eS shoes…I actually took the shoes in my hands and ran two blocks crying. I love the feeling, being acknowledged for the hard work. That’s the drive and that’s what’s pushing me to go beyond.
Fresh off work from a 12 hr shift but no excuses when im #dreamchasin and my #wifeandkids believe in me so Im fresh from the refinery still in my nomex practicing on my #Switchbacksideflips with the #Handsdown i rather give my all then to credit somebody else accomplishments and watch skate videos wishing I was them #yallaintpracticing @shakejunt @dgk @jamiethomas @shanejoneill @esskateboarding @kellyhart @trevorcolden @steviewilliams
So what exactly is a day in your life?
My normal schedule is 6 A.M. to 6 P.M. — twelve hour shifts. I’m on seven days, but every other week, we take what’s called a “fatigue day.” The plant requires that every contractor have a fatigue day. I get two days off a month.
I just make time. My body has adapted. My wife, the woman she is and the way she pushes me, she’s basically trained my body. I can get two to three hours of sleep and I’m up on that skateboard practicing. Sometimes, I’m working the day shift, sometimes they may switch it and I’ll pick up nights. So, I got off at six this morning, I’m still up, it’s nine o’clock right now. I’ll probably go skate in the next hour and a half until about two. I’ll lay down from two to five, then my wife will wake me up and take me to work to be there at six o’clock.
Is there anything else you want say to the people, J. Scott Handsdown?
I just want the world to know: no trick counts if you use your hands. I don’t care if you jump off the Eiffel Tower, you must keep them hands down. Get ready ‘cause we’re finna take over. Worldwide.