The line from Field of Dreams has been quoted so much it's lost its meaning: "If you build it, they will come." But this saying is absolutely true for Robbie Weir and his backyard skating ramp.
The Florida Hall of Fame skateboarder's life story has been chronicled both by New Times in a 2006 article, "Thrashed," and by Weir himself in his book about Miami's early skateboarding history, Miami Inverted. But the most recent chapter of Weir's life began when his love for skateboarding eventually led to a serious injury.
"I've been skateboarding forever. It's been one of my hobbies," said Weir, now 47. "I was a professional [skateboarder], I've done commercials, I became a stuntman...but never quit skating...[F]rom all the activity and some genetics, I wore my hip joints out. In my early 40s, I almost couldn't walk anymore. ...So it turns out, I was looking at a wheelchair."
This prospect started the search for help. "I did a lot of research, called all around the world, went to all my famous friends in L.A...that have had hips done, and there are very few people that had to have both of them done at such a young age," said Weir. "I found this amazing doctor in Fort Lauderdale, Dr. [William] Burke. He did a couple of friends of mine, but he never did both [hips] in one operation. I initially went in crippled at Broward Health in the morning, and less than 48 hours later, walked out in less pain. So now, it's ten months, going on 11, and I'm already doing skateboarding, surfboarding, it's been crazy. So my nickname now is the Iron Man, because I have all of this metal in my body."
In celebration, Weir a skateboarding ramp in his Miami backyard. "It was about having fun," he said. "The act of building the ramp itself was therapy while I was recovering."
Once word got out about his ramp ("I'm the only one down here that has a cool spot," said Weir), other skating enthusiasts wanted to test it out. "What happened is that all of these guys would come out on the weekend, riding with me," said Weir. "It turned into a happening in my backyard."
Now, Weir's sponsored by MovieTickets.com and will be hosting a private party for skateboarding royalty and insiders at his ramp on Thursday, Nov. 7. The party is the precursor to Nov. 9's Grind for Life event at Ramp 48 in Fort Lauderdale.
Weir and Grind for Life's creator, Mike Rogers, go way back. "I've known him for years as a skateboarder. We both got inducted into the Florida Skateboarding Hall of Fame in '09, so I've known him for a long time," he said.
Their friendship helped Weir through tough times in his life, even when Rogers was diagnosed with sarcoma cancer. "[The doctors] had to take off half of his face, and he has one eye," said Weir. "Since he was given a second chance, he had this idea to start [Grind for Life]...He... knows my family because my dad and my brother both died 10 months apart from cancer back in '06 and '07, so Mike helped me with that. He's a hero in the skateboarding world for sure."
Also, Weir's got a patent for the Dipstick, a spring loaded land paddle he used when he couldn't use his legs. Weir said that this invention, along with SUP surfing, helped a long way with his recovery.
Having a new lease on skateboarding notoriety was probably the furthest thing from Weir's mind when he was building his ramp. But Weir's ramp has had the Field of Dreams effect and has launched the next phase of his skateboarding life, something he would love to share.
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"I'm laughing now, thinking, shit, I've got to write another book," he said, laughing. "Because of all this stuff that's gone on, I've got to add to this little book I've already got...I actually wrote it too soon."