Blind San Francisco teen pursues professional skateboarding dream

Friday, June 23, 2023
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- SAD UPDATE: Zion Rick-Gains' family called ABC7 News to let us know that he passed away in his sleep Monday. The skating community is reportedly putting up memorials for him throughout the city.

Read Zion's story below:

A San Francisco teenager is pushing the limits and refusing to give up on his dream. Zion Rick-Gains lost his eyesight last year and is still determined to become a professional skateboarder.
"It's something really important and special to me and the fact that I can still do it, especially due to my accident, I can't give up," said the 19-year-old, a fixture around the city's skateparks.

Zion is legally blind after being shot in a senseless act of gun violence and is now owning his new identity. His glass eye is stamped with a Thrasher logo - a popular skateboard magazine.

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"I kind of have it memorized in my head how the park looks, so I usually walk this way," said Zion, using his cane to guide his way as patience and persistence do the rest.

"I'll try something until I land it and sometimes I do and sometimes I don't, but it's all just about practicing," said Zion, noting his unwavering positivity is a product of his mother, Charmaine.

"Part of my motivation and part of dedication and hard work and consistency, I've had to learn those things and learned them from my mother," he said. "She raised me all by herself all these years, so a big part of my character and a big part of the way I am is a reflection of my mom."

And Zion's unwillingness to give up is capturing the imaginations of his fellow skateboarders and inspiring them.
"He's out here getting these good balancing attempts and when I get on, I immediately slide off," said Michael Zhang. "I can see perfectly fine. I have 20/20 vision and he's out here doing this crazy stuff."

Zion himself admitting he doesn't completely understand his ability. "I ask myself the same question. I don't even know how I do it sometimes. Commitment though is definitely a big part of it," said Zion, adding community also plays a big role.

"Skateboarding you know, it's all a big family and we all get to vibe with each other and hangout."

And when moments of frustration and fear fall upon him, Zion fights through.

"Things can seem scary but if you take risks and keep going for it you might achieve it and that's what I do."

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