When Russ Howell was the best and most famous skateboarder in the world in the 1970's, he served as an ideal role model to young children, often giving free lessons at skating clinics and instructing handicapped youngsters. Since the mid-1980's, Howell has continued to have a positive impact on the lives of children by working as a schoolteacher in the Long Beach, California, area.
Although Howell does not earn the large amount of money he made after becoming the first professional skateboarder in the world, he is very happy with his life. He says that by teaching schoolchildren, he has become rich in spirit. In a letter written on December 21, 1987, Howell said, "I am learning to become richer with less and less money." He added that he is grateful that his status as the original skateboard superstar has provided him with the platform from which to help educate and influence young students.
Known as the granddaddy of skateboarding, Howell originated many of the freestyle stunts and tricks that have been copied and performed by millions of skateboarders throughout the world. Still, Howell continues to compete when he has time to do so, performing superbly. For instance, in 1986, he broke his old record of consecutive spins with a mark of 163 top spins. Howell says he hopes that his record-breaking performance will serve to inspire some older skateboarders to remain active and do well on a competitive basis.
Howell has appeared on many television shows, as well as in movie films and television commercials. Very popular among skateboard fans in Australia, Howell has received widespread recognition for organizing a skateboard curriculum there for high school students.
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