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Birth Of Big Air – ESPN 30 for 30


In 1985, at the tender age of 13, Mat Hoffman entered into the BMX circuit as an amateur, and by 16 he had risen to the professional level. Throughout his storied career, Hoffman has ignored conventional limitations, instead, focusing his efforts on the purity of the sport and the pursuit of “what’s next.” His motivations stem purely from his own ambitions, and even without endorsements, cameras, fame and fans, Hoffman would still be working to push the boundaries of gravity. Academy Award nominee Spike Jonze and extreme sport fanatic Johnny Knoxville, along with director Jeff Tremaine, will showcase the inner workings and exploits of the man who gave birth to “Big Air.”

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Birth Of Big Air

Director Spike Jonze and “Jackass” prankster Johnny Knoxville produced this unconventional portrait of BMX rider Mat Hoffman, a fearless, trailblazing biker who went pro when he was only 16 and helped build the sport of BMX Freestyle.

Director’s Take

Mat is awesome as sh-t, so we decided to make a movie about him.

–Spike Jonze, Jeff Tremaine, Johnny Knoxville

I grew up riding BMX. I stole wood to build ramps. I got chased by security guards from the mall. Spike Jonze and I were outcasts; we rode bikes and skateboards and listened to punk rock. We got our first jobs together at the premier BMX shop on the East Coast, and later we ventured across the country to Los Angeles. Our dreams led us to start our careers at the leading BMX publication in the 1980s. Eventually, we were able to repay that debt of inspiration and share what’s great about action sports with the masses through our work at Dickhouse.

I first crossed paths with Mat Hoffman when BMX was a small sport. Even at age 16, Mat was the best rider anyone had ever seen. I watched him take punishing slams and get back up time and again. He was a gladiator whose spirit couldn’t be broken. He is one of those guys who found his purpose in life early on. The irony about Mat is he does what he was born to do, and it could kill him.

In the early 1990s, the sport of BMX was at an all-time low. Mat was organizing events, building his own bikes and redefining riding. In his quest to go higher he built the tallest ramp ever constructed. He cleared the 20-foot aerial mark, set a world record and lost his spleen in the process. The birth of Big Air stands as one of the crowing achievements in all of action sports.