After battling his own demons, San Diego skateboarder creates program to help others

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SAN DIEGO – It’s been 37 years since Brandon Turner first picked up a skateboard.

“I’ll skateboard ‘til the day I die, and that’s just what I do, is skate,” Turner said.

The San Diego native says he started skating when he was two years old. He was considered a child prodigy by many. Quickly rising to fame with his talent, Turner was introduced to the drug and party scene around age 16, a lifestyle he says grew to be addicting, and fast.

“Nothing that happened to me really in my life, no matter how bad, made me think it was a problem,” Turner said. “I had to one day just wake up and make the decision myself, that this isn’t working out for me.”

From breaking both legs after jumping off a bridge and getting hit by a drunk driver, to spending time in prison, Turner went through a lot. Fast forward to today, Turner has been sober for four years now.

About a year ago, Turner created a program where he worked with Healthy Life Recovery patients in a casual skateboarding setting.

“We’ll hit different parts of San Diego and we’ll have an organic check-in and kind of see how everyone’s doing,” Turner said. “We’ll go out to eat.”

At least five people come together two or more times a week to skate and talk about their sobriety.

“I feel like I didn’t realize how bad things were until I got into the program and started examining myself and really started figuring out how to pull my way out,” Healthy Life Recovery patient Ned Gittings said of his time with Turner.

Another patient said being part of the group has more benefits than one.

“The exercising, the community of skaters,” Tyler Moore said. “And just being around people that are dealing with the same thing I am, and also have other life interests outside of addiction.”

Turner recently won Street League Skateboarding’s 2020 Trick of the Year. Yet, the 39-year-old says his most rewarding work is what he does with the Healthy Life Recovery patients, people he now considers friends.

“Even though he’s a famous skateboarder and everybody knows him, he doesn’t act like that,” Gittings said.

To find out more about Turner’s program, go to

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