By WSJ Magazine.
“MY GRANDMA GAVE ME the illustrated Bible on the left. There was a lot of tumult in the household growing up, and during those times she’d say, ‘Rodney, this is part of your education.’ I made the ‘light suit’ on top for my crazy rescue dog. I was always losing her at night when she ran o to chase rabbits, so I tied a ash- light to her. Eventually I built a full harness of lamps. She was like this little light bulb. The framed letter in back is from David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker.
In 2015, I received an invitation from Vogue’s Anna Wintour to speak at one of her weekly Condé Nast staff meetings. Remnick’s thank-you note came in the mail a couple of weeks after my talk. It’s been on my wall ever since. The framed photo on the right is from my friend Danny Way, the gnarliest skater ever. He inscribed a meaningful message on it for me. Jamie Thomas gave me the skateboard to the right after I broke my ankle on tour in the ’90s. He told me to never quit, and that stuck with me. To the right is a painting of a lion done by the skater Marc Johnson. In the ’80s, freestyle skating—the at-ground type of skating I’d been known for—started to die off. I spent a few years trying to be a street skater—that’s the style we see today—but I wasn’t able to fully express myself, and it began to lose some degree of meaning for me. But Marc was instrumental in why I began integrating freestyle into my street; he flipped a switch in me.
In front is a card from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I’m just a grown man who rolls around on a piece of wood, so the fact that some kid wants to see me as his last wish is humbling. My friend Ben Harper gave me the Grammy to the left. He won it in 2004 for best gospel album. He has a heart of gold. I got the patch and the flashlight to the left from two Navy SEAL friends. They’re like family. Finally, that’s a photo of my mom and me, which my grandmother gave to me after my mom passed. I grew up in a wealthy home, and as a kid I always struggled to measure up to all that I was given. This picture provides me with a sense of comfort. As long as I do what I do with all my heart, I know that my mother would have been proud.” —As told to Thomas Gebremedhin