Jagger Eaton knows a thing or two about perseverance. He’s broken both ankles, both collarbones, both sides of his skull—the list goes on. Jagger smiles as he recalls his past injuries, as if any of them could have halted a career as extraordinary as his. At just 21, the Arizona-native is highly decorated, having driven home the ﬁrst American medal in Olympic skateboarding at the sport’s inaugural debut at Tokyo 2020.
Jagger can still remember the moment he realized his board held more potential than a hobby. At nine years old—long outgrown from the mini ramp his dad built in their garage one Christmas—he and his brother were skating the MegaRamp at Woodward West. Skated by the likes of legends Tony Hawk and Bob Burnquist, the world’s largest public ramp was a daunting feat for most, but certainly not for Jagger. “That was the moment I realized skateboarding was going to be my career,” he says. “Me and my brother were going out there together and landing the whole thing.”
With a conﬁdence unmatched by his fellow competitors (and rightfully so), Jagger became the youngest person to enter the X Games at only 11 years old. It couldn’t have been a more accurate sign of all that was to come. With notable versatility in both park and street skateboarding, the decade to follow was filled with countless wins, a Red Bull sponsorship, and, to top it off, a trip to the Olympics.
The plan seemed simple enough—practice, qualify, compete. Tokyo 2020 was a perfectly feasible goal for the young veteran, and as long as he stayed focused, there was no reason he shouldn’t make the team. The problem with that is it’s a fairly boring story. And if there’s one thing Jagger is going to do, it’s have one hell of an adventure.
“I had one more contest to make the team, and I could barely walk,” he remembers of the Olympic qualiﬁ ers. He was skating on a fractured ankle, the majority of his ligaments torn, but through the pain, he managed to make it. Six months later, in Tokyo, it was time to brave the injury once more. “The emotional and mental strain was astronomical,” he says. “Out there [in Tokyo], I could still feel my ankle crack in my shoe.”
Jagger won’t lie—like any athlete, he hates to lose. (Not that he’s particularly well-versed in it, he did bring home an Olympic bronze medal). But what sets him apart from the pack is a second priority he won’t let himself forget: the passion. “Skateboarding will never feel like a job to me,” he says. “What I’m going to do, and what I’ve continued to do, is remember to ﬁnd the joy in it.”
Follow Jagger’s journey to the 2024 Olympics on Instagram at @jaggereaton.
Grooming: Lisa-Marie Powell (Art Department)
Producer: Alexey Galetskiy (AGPNYC)
Photo assistants: Sandy Rivas, Juliet Lambert
Stylist assistant Frankie Benkovic
Production assistant Sasha Milostnova
Editors: Czar Van Gaal, Matthew Velasco, Kala Herh