Thrashed

Robbie Weir crashed, burned, and recovered

Walker and his pals, much like the Dogtown crew in L.A., alternated surfing in the waters and skating on the streets of South Beach. As the skate scene heated up, Walker formed a team that dominated competition across Florida. Eventually he'd cross paths with Robbie Weir, but not before Robbie had achieved notoriety.

"One day in 1978 these guys in suits and ties showed up at the Runway," Robbie remembers. "It was the summer before my freshman year in high school, and the place was pretty packed. They watched everybody skate for a while and they got some of our phone numbers. A few days later they called my house, asking if I wanted to be in a Burger King commercial."

Two weeks later, Robbie and two Fort Lauderdale skaters did their best aerial tricks for a camera crew at the Runway. The shots were interspersed with footage of Burger King (not the creepy big-headed modern king, just a goofy guy with a fake beard and regal robes) skating. Robbie was featured doing a layback air, a combination of a handstand and a backside air. He made $30,000 in residuals from the ad. "I'd get calls from friends and family all over the country, saying, öHey, I just saw your commercial!'" he remembers.

Then Robbie moved to a back-yard miniramp
Then Robbie moved to a back-yard miniramp
In their spare time, Robbie and Scott (right) still work on 
engines
In their spare time, Robbie and Scott (right) still work on engines

By the time he entered ninth grade at Sunset, people were calling him the Burger King Kid. "The Burger King commercial was kind of a big deal," Hutchinson remembers. "Robbie was becoming one of the premier local skaters."

His parents had begun to notice their son's hobby morphing into something bigger, and the commercial cemented the notion. "I couldn't watch Robbie at the park, what with all the dangerous tricks, the whirligigs and whoopsidos and whatnot," mom Anne says. "But I knew he was very good at it. And when I saw the commercial, I was very proud."

Scott laughs when he's asked about his bro's BK premiere. "Robbie on TV — very cool," he says. During the time when Robbie's commercial was airing, Scott was getting familiar with the local cops, mainly by stealing his parents' cars and racing through the streets of West Kendall. "I remember one night I was driving around with Mom," Robbie says, "and we passed this wreck, and I said, öWow, that looks like your car, Mom.' When we got home later, the car was in the driveway, and the front end was smashed."

Robbie was pretty proud himself, especially after skate guru Walker saw him win a competition at the Solid Surf shop in Fort Lauderdale and invited him to be part of the Walker team. "It was amazing," Robbie says. "This guy was the Stacy Peralta of the East Coast!" There were writeups in magazines like Skateboard, respect from the other skaters, and, most important for a fifteen-year-old boy, chicks.

The good times — trips to competitions all over Florida and California, wins at Kona in Jacksonville and Sensation Basin in Gainesville — culminated with the ultimate invitation. "I was fourteen, skating my little miniramp in the back yard, when my mom yelled out the kitchen window that the phone was for me," Robbie says. "I asked who it was, and she says, 'Stacy Peralta.' I just knew it was one of my friends pranking me, but it wasn't." Peralta invited Robbie to skate for Powell-Peralta, the nation's elite skate team. "Between Walker and Peralta, it just couldn't have gotten any better," he says. "I was getting all kinds of free equipment, winning competitions, and getting a lot of attention. I was always having my picture taken and meeting really, um, eager girls.

"I wasn't exactly a star quarterback, but somehow cheerleaders still wanted to date me," he adds. "Life was golden. It's amazing how things change."


Then came the 1983 accident. Robbie was on crutches while his knee healed. Then his parents divorced. There were no fireworks, but it took a toll on the family. Robbie's connection to the big-time — Powell-Peralta and Walker — evaporated. And then, just before Christmas, Scott came within a hair of doing jail time. He was zipping through the neighborhood in his El Camino when one of his friends, riding in the pickup bed, threw something at a car full of young Hispanic men, Robbie explains. "The guys followed Scott, and he was terrified," he adds. "They followed him home, and he thought they were going to beat the shit out of him, so he went inside the house and got his shotgun. He fired over their heads to scare them." Scott was arrested and charged with two counts of felony aggravated assault. Prosecutors later dropped the charges.

"It was a weird period of time," Robbie says. "I really didn't know what the hell to do with myself." His dad helped him get a job at the airport, cleaning planes for Eastern Airlines.

Emotionally it all hit home two years after graduation. Robbie's knee had healed, and he'd begun to skate a little. But he was floundering. (The lone bright spot for Robbie was Scott's health. Despite poor prognoses from doctors since birth, Scott seemed as strong as ever.)

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