Barring the unfadeable Allen Iverson, I think most pro basketball players are pussies. With all the flopping and fake injuries disrupting the flow of the game, it's hard to believe it's the same sport where Kenyon Martin laid out Karl Malone and Tracy McGrady just 14 years ago. The softness of the L came to a boiling point for me a couple months ago during the Western Conference Finals when the NBA's MVP, Stephen Curry, flew over Houston's Trevor Ariza while trying to block a shot and fell on his back. He lay on the ground, lifeless, for what seemed like an eternity. One could be forgiven for thinking he had fallen out of a ten-story building, or had been sucker punched by Mayweather, Tyson, and Ali all at once.
By skateboarding standards, a fall like that is nothing. Bigger slams happen to most every skateboarder on a daily basis, and they simply dust themselves off and go back for more. Maybe in 1992 something like that could have ended up in the slam section of a skate video, but have you watched any skateboarding recently? It's out of control. You'd get winded walking to the top of some of the stairs that skateboarders are jumping down these days. I'm no Dionne Warwick, but in the near future I foresee someone dying on film while skating. It's kind of a wonder it hasn't happened yet. It takes enormous balls to try any of the shit that's happening in modern skateboarding.
Which brings me to former Black Label/Pig pro skateboarder Anthony Scalamere, or Ragdoll, who literally has the biggest balls in skateboarding. At the turn of the century Scalamere was amongst a pack of young psychopaths taking skating to new heights, jumping off the biggest shit without any regard for their bodies. When I first met Scalamere more than a decade ago, aside from telling him I'd never, ever call a grown man by a nickname, I told him he probably wasn't going to be walking in ten to 15 years. And I was right, although I am a bit surprised by the circumstances by which my premonition came to pass.
Recently, while filming for his return to the pro ranks (ironically for a brand called Hurt Life), Scalamere broke his wrist and was also rendered nearly immobile with a ball the size of a grapefruit. He would need expensive surgery if he wanted any hope of skating again.
I'll let the surprisingly upbeat Scalamere tell you the gory details, but as you read the story and watch the slam that caused the injury do me a favor, think of Steph Curry or any professional athlete and how they'd cry a river if they had to go through anything even remotely as painful.
VICE: You disappeared off the skate radar for a while. What happened and what have you been up to?
Anthony Scalamere: First things first, I had to take a mental breather from skating because of the industry shit. When you do something you like so much it ends up becoming a chore, so I was to the point where I had to get away from everything and get back to my roots, so I went back to Vegas. Between me taking a break from skating I got married and had the most amazing child with the best mother he could ever wish for. We got divorced, and I am focused on being a dad. Being a dad humbles you, and I was trying to carry on with life without being selfish by being a skateboarder because I didn't want to milk it. I didn't want to be that dude who burned out, so I walked away from it. And I feel it was a good thing because I can get back into it and not feel like the guy who milked it. I realized how much I loved it and hated parts of it and decided it was time to come back.
You are returning with a new board brand and hopefully a comeback part.
I don't want to say, "comeback part," because when people heard I was coming back with Hurt Life they thought I rode for them, but the reality is it's me and two other people running it. Now I get the chance to do my own company as the little guys and have a team and try to protect them from getting shit on. So rather than a comeback part I've been calling it a welcome back part. Shit, I'm trying to get that sponsor list locked again so it's almost like a "Sponsor Me" part. People always bring up my Pig Wood or my Black Out part, but times have changed. I'm going to do what I'm going to do—I'm not trying to get back on that level.
But you used to skate really big stuff. Are you still trying to skate big shit?
In my mind I have a few things that I really want to do. Mentally you know if you're scared of something or if you really want to do it, and I really want to do a lot of heavy stuff that is on my mind. We'll see what happens…
I'm in LA once a month and often drive by Hollywood High School. For as much shit that's been done there I tend to think of you immediately, because most people who skate it skate it the same way. You put your own stamp on that school. What do you think your contribution to skating is or was?
Man, I got a lot of shit when my first parts came out because I was doing all the firecrackers and not skating spots in the normal, general way. In Vegas we didn't have a lot of spots. We had to make one spot ten spots. You can go up, down, sideways, do the rail, over the rail, firecracker the stairs, whatever. So if I have any contribution to skating I would hope it would be that I helped show people there's a freedom to do whatever you want on a skateboard.
That's a perfect segue. You say you can whatever you want on a skateboard, but currently you cannot. What ails you, my friend? Tell me about your big balls.
Well, it started when we got the Hurt Life team together. We had the plan to start filming again and it happened right before Christmas on one of the first days I went out filming. I was just so gung-ho. I dropped in on this three-story natural quarterpipe and dodged all the rocks and merked off to the left and I landed it and they wanted me to get another angle. I went at it again. I remember falling. I heard something snap but I thought it was my watchband breaking. Long story short, I woke up the next morning and it ended up I had a broken wrist.
The first day I got to take a shower without my cast I felt around my balls and was like, "Holy shit!" At that time the one ball was the size of a large strawberry. I went to the hospital and it ended up being a hydrocele, which is a swelling of your scrotum. It's like a water balloon around your balls; it's like your balls are pregnant. From watching the footage, what I think happened was when I fell and broke my wrist I also clapped my balls but I was in so much pain from my wrist I didn't know it. The doctors don't understand skateboarding and they're telling me I can live with it for the rest of my life. I don't have an office job; I'm not a paper pusher. I skateboard. I can't live with this.
What exactly does it feel like?
At first it was that uncomfortable feeling like when you're trying to pick a wedgie. You just can't get comfortable and you feel it a little bit on your leg. At first it seemed huge and I thought I could live with it, but it wasn't to the point where it was scary, like it is now. So I was skating and doing every day shit, but as time went by I realized I was making it worse and it got bigger and bigger to the point where now it's hard for me to push. I gotta push wide legged because it's so noticeably there. If I roll off a curb I have to pretend I'm landing off El Toro and take a deep impact straddling leg press.
You're skating like Gilbert Crockett.
Yeah, exactly. Best way to describe it. And he has an amazing style. But now there's pain kicking in and it's the size of a grapefruit. I've gotten eight hours of sleep in the past week. Imagine getting an Indian burn with a sunburn. I have pains shooting up the sides of my legs every night. I've had dreams where I'm getting stabbed and I'll really feel pain in my dream and I'll wake up and it's because of the pain from this. They say hydroceles aren't supposed to hurt, so all the doctors wanted to do was prescribe pain pills. I told them I don't take pain pills and so then I've just had to deal with it.
What can they do? You mentioned going in there and cutting it out? Do you mean they cut your ball out?
They cut your sack and take out the hydrocele, which is like a water balloon, and they do like a belly button flip, like when you tie a balloon and you flip the knot. That reverses it and blocks fluid from going back in there. It's a same-day, easy, out patient surgery but it's hard coming off of it. The procedure can run up to $20,000. There's a place in Vegas called No Insurance Surgery and they work with people with no insurance. They'll do it for $6,500 and then it's a four-week recovery of me out of work. It's still a lot of money for a guy who doesn't have a lot of money. I'm trying to raise the money and we're a quarter of the way there between me saving and with donations. I feel so blessed that people would even donate. It's so humbling every time I get an email of a donation. But until I can raise the money it's me, day to day, trying to trick myself into putting on a tough face. But the most important thing I can say to anyone who thinks they might have this problem is to go get an ultrasound. I know you don't want to tell anyone but once I opened up about it I feel it's made it easier to cope with it.
Agree. I had a good childhood friend die real young from testicular cancer because he was embarrassed to tell anyone. Embarrassment should not trump health.
No, it will snatch your life. And it's more liberating to laugh about it with somebody instead. But generally if people know you're going through hard times they're going to be more sympathetic and maybe not laugh as much. My embarrassment turned into embracement.
I'm laughing quite a bit. Can you still bang?
Yeah, but now it's more like making love. Nice and slow. I put on slow jams now, no more Slayer in the background. Red wine-type of shit.
You got a lady that can get her mouth around it?
No, I haven't gotten that weird with it yet. I don't even want to touch it myself.
When you told me your balls were huge I thought maybe you had elephantitis.
It feels like it! It's not that big. But I've seen pictures of dudes with hydroceles and their shit was the size of a watermelon. One guy was wearing basketball shorts and you could see it through the shorts. It made mine feel small in comparison. Mine is bad but other people have it worse.
What would happen if someone kicked you in the balls right now?
Fuck, dude, I don't want to know. My first thought would be that it could rupture. Or it would just irritate it and swell up more. That's why I've been taking it easy and not even skating. Before it was just my balls, but now it's like the whole area from the base of my dick down.
So having the biggest balls in skateboarding isn't necessarily the best thing?
It's a curse. I'd rather have small balls and no brains than big balls and be brilliant. I want no brains and small balls and I'd be a happy man.
Follow Anthony's balls on Instagram.