Watch this guy skate!!! He revolutionized skating. Before Ray, there were lots of guys that did amazing tricks. Gnarly guys like Duane Peters and Tony Alva that rode like they were fighting with the pool or ramp. Smooth gymnast like guys who do amazing acrobatic stunts like Tony Hawk and Mike McGill. You had the insane weird street stuff like Gonzo and Natas, and then the unparalleled trickstering of Rodney Mullins. But it was mostly, trick, set up, other trick, set up and then another trick. What Ray did was different, it was like, “I am just going across the neighborhood, but doing it in style” His tricks were awesome, but looked so simple because of his cruising type of style. He made skating into transportation, not just skills.
But what is amazing, is that with all his fame, and notoriety, he is quite literally the nicest guy I have ever met. He is so humble, and friendly, and always has a smile for someone. I would go skating with him, and he would inspire awe in everyone. Yet he would stop and sign boards, talk to kids, teach them tricks, and my favorite bit he would encourage them and cheer them on. When he got tired he would often sit off to the side and just read his pocket sized new testament. He talked about Jesus and the bible all the time, almost spoke in scriptures, but it seemed so natural, and normal when he did it. Everyone knew he was a follower of Jesus, and they thought it was cool. He made me want to be more like Jesus, because surely, this is what Jesus was like.
I remember one day he was on the mini pipe with me, and he was learning to do some insanely hard trick, four feet in the air over the pipe. I was relearning a simple little trick on the edge of the ramp. And he said, “we aren’t leaving til we both land these” and we skated for over and hour, just him and I, encouraging each other. It was awesome.
Ray isn’t that smiley faced boy anymore. He is a man, with a family. He is in his mid thirties and still gets paid to skateboard, but he is realizing that he needs to move on. Looks like his next careers are music and photography. Doesn’t seem fair, why doesn’t he have to have a real job… ever? But because its Ray, you just are so happy for him.
If you ever see a guy with a skateboard by his side, a small pocket sized bible open in his lap, a big smile for all to see, it just might be Ray Barbee. When I think of what Jesus was like… I usually think of Ray.