Zion Wright: Muscle Milk Makes the Big Leagues

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As a tiny kid at the skatepark Zion Wright would get in on the action any way he could. Drowning in pads, he’d try to skate the handrail even before he could properly ollie. “I’d just ride off the top stair real fast and somehow catch a 5-0!” Once out on the streets, Z would get the attention of his older brother and his friends by finding the biggest drop and throwing himself off of it. “I’d try to improvise. I just wanted to do something!” As long as Zion’s been on a board, he’s been operating slightly ahead of where he’s at. That optimism, enthusiasm and drive is paying off and while his meteoric rise into the pro ranks may surprise some, his friends and family knew it was practically inevitable. Read on!

Zion photo1.5 750pxFrom skimming 5-0s at the park to riding front feebles in the streets, Zion only knows one speed: full throttle     Photo: Morford

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Zion photo2 750pxKickflip 5-0, picture perfect     Photo: Broach

“I’ve know him for the past 15 years and watched Zion grow up. I spent a lot of time with him and his dad. He’s one of those kids where you see them and you just know they have it. He had what it took. We required elbow and knee pads at the park, the whole works. He would come in wearing pads where you couldn’t even see his arms. It was hysterical. All you would see is those big eyes and that big ol’ bright smile. He would see what everyone else was doing and then it would turn into everyone watching what he was doing. Even at an early age he was hitting the nine stair and the big drop we called the Caution Drop. Everyone would sit down and just watch. He and his brother were always at the park. My wife and I always had to deal with him. One time I got a call from my boss that there were kids in the park that had given him some trouble. This is before we opened up for the day. It ended being Mikey Glover and Zion. They actually charged him with trespassing and had him banned for a little while. It took me a couple months, sweet talking the office and convincing them that we had to get this kid back in the park. Sure enough, we got him back in and he apologized to everybody. I told him if he ever needed to get in there early, he always has my number. Zion is like the son I never had. I told him to keep his head straight and you can take it as far as you want. That’s what he’s done, for sure. Within the last year or so, he’s really turned it up. He’s all business but he still calls me and talks to me all the time. I run a skatepark and he surprised me with a spotlight at my park. He’s even making my dreams come true. Remember where you came from, Zion! We love you and we’ll be waiting for you here, buddy.” —Philip Pilcher (owner of Jupiter Skatepark)

Zion photo2.5 750px180 to switch crooks, made in the shade     Photo: Morford

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Zion photo3 750pxPhoto: Hammeke

“I was Zion’s first shop sponsor and he’s really good at surfing as well. Jupiter is a really white beach town. He was in the shop hanging out with his crew and this rich lady comes up to the counter, asking me for a discount. She’s probably got a black Amex card in her wallet, asking me for a discount. I told her that if I gave her a discount, I wouldn’t be able to take care of all these kids. She look around at all of them and asked if they were really all of my kids. I told her, ‘Yeah, even the little black kid back there.’ She looked at me really funny, paid then left. A couple minutes later, Zion walks up to me, all quiet. He tells me, ‘Hey, Jimmy, I heard you call me black.’ It was kind of a shell shocker to him. I told him yes but that it wasn’t a derogatory term or anything like that. Race is not a big deal for Zion and it showed me that he doesn’t see any difference among his friends. That was one thing that always stood out for me. I think he was 12 years old. His rise has been amazing and when he comes back home he always takes care of everybody.”  —Jimmy Locals

Zion photo4 750pxCuidado chico! Leche Muscular está haciendo un back tail en Plaza del Mariachi!     Photo: Burnett

“The first time I had ever seen him skate was at Woodward. We were watching videos of the kids at the camp and one of them had this cute little brother jumping off of a roof. I wanted to meet that kid. The very next day I end up at Woodward and I see him from afar. He was the first person I approached that day and he ended up on Organika soon after. His skating has always had a strong foundation. Since the first time I had met him, he could always skate everything. Now he knows his body more, knows his strengths. He’s really confident and focused. He’s grown as a person a lot, too. He’s really professional now. Jim and the Real guys really showed him some great work ethic. When he got on Real, that become the biggest catalyst for him becoming who he is today. He was beginning to get paid—which can change some people. It can make you complacent or it’ll turn you into the star that he has become. He’s a machine, on track to becoming a legend. A true legend. He’ll become a leader for the new generation. Zion, stay humble, just know that this can be gone tomorrow. Appreciate everybody who helped you get to where you are.” —Karl Watson

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Zion photo5 750pxThe pads came off, but the vert skills remain. Backside 360 tailgrab to fakie over some evil graffiti     Photo: Broach

“Zion and I are from the same place: Jupiter, Florida. When the skatepark got built I was maybe 16. Zion wasn’t even in the picture. A couple years in, this tiny, tiny kid would come in all the time with his brother. His dad would bring them there, drop them off or watch them. My friends and I became friends with his dad. He would go pretty much every day. He was so tiny that his helmet was bigger than him. We would watch him over the years, slowly progressing. There was this small time frame where he was becoming something crazy. I think it was around the time a lot of his friends stopped skating and he went skating with that Florida Daze crew. He went under their wing for the street skating thing. As he was getting older he started to ask us for advice. He was super interested and you could tell he wanted to pursue it. That’s the time we noticed he could really be something. I remember him coming up to me and asking me if I knew anyone who worked for Nike. I knew Scuba but he didn’t know who that was. I told him that he was the team manager and that I had his number. He really wanted Nike shoes. I hit up Scuba and told him there was this kid that was interested and really good. I sent him a link to his footage—I think it was mostly footage at that park and some street stuff. He was still young and tiny at the time. The next time I saw him, it was really quick, maybe a few days later, Zion came up to me and told me, ‘Scuba got back to me and he sent me 13 pairs of shoes!’ He sent him a crazy amount of shoes and he was so psyched. You could tell from then on that it was on. It was the non-stop progression. It’s never going to stop. The level he’s at these days is completely insane but I’m not surprised at all. Seeing him as a kid and how determined he was, 5-0ing 20-stair rails. Yes, it’s insane but to me, but it’s just Zion.” —Brad Cromer

Zion photo6 750pxMuscling a milky crooks grab, over and out     Photo: Burnett

“The first time we ever took him out street skating he was ten years old and we brought him to this double-overhead roof. It was seriously twice over his head because he was so little. It was the first street trick he’s ever filmed in his life. We get to the spot and he wanted to go off of it into a bank. We were just like, ‘What the fuck are you talking about? You can’t even get up there.’ Sure enough, he climbed up onto the fucking roof and ollied off of it. It was the last trick in the first part he ever had. Going forward from there, I knew what to expect from him. That’s what hit me the hardest—he’s really just about it. He’s going to jump off of cliffs and shit! The first time he ever went filming, he got his last trick. How many people can say that?” —John Dilorenzo

Zion photo7 750pxBluntsliding through a double kink with 12 more pairs of shoes on ice     Photo: Broach

“I met Zion at Woodward when I was about 14. They had an Organika week and we all showed up. He was hella stinky but jumped down big-ass rails. He was getting Organika boards for about a year and we all went on our first trip to Spokane, Washington, together. Zion was crazy. He would stop every four hours to buy junk food—McDonald’s, Burger King, anywhere. We’d get back and he’d be smellin’ like shit, farting everywhere and barely showered. But now he’s fully grown and a humble, kind, loving professional at everything he does. They call Zion Muscle Milk. I’m going to catch up to Muscle Milk with that açaí milk! That alkaline water! You feel me?” —Tafari Whitter

Zion photo7.5 750pxPhoto: Morford

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Zion photo8 750pxLike the clips he throws on the ‘Gram, this frontside bigspin was done no biggie     Photo: Morf

“We did a big TV show with The Rock recently and he ended up being the main dude on it. The show is about managing major ball-sport athletes and one of the characters on the show taps into the extreme sports thing. The episode takes place at Venice skatepark and Zion was doing airs in the bowl and shit. They had him on full actor mode. He was trying to stay straight but kept fucking up because he was always laughing. He was probably tripping. But I remember meeting Zion for the first time as a little grom. Hayden and I gave him the nickname Muscle Milk because he was this gnarly kid who could skate anything—this buff-ass little kid! It just stuck and people still call him that shit to this day! It’s crazy to watch him change into the grown-man version of Muscle Milk.” —Blake Johnson

Zion photo8.5 750pxBack 270 to lipslide while working on his audition tape for Fast & Furious 9     Photo: Morford

“Watching him skate in person is crazy, especially at a skatepark. Just seeing him be able to do 540s is fucked up. It’s jaw dropping. You’ll just sit there and watch him skate. He’ll light up the park real quick. Everyone feels it. At the same time, he can be very silly and clumsy. He can turn it on and off. Always doing some sus shit, too! His confidence rubs off on all of us; we all just feed off of each other. He’s definitely a good person to be around whether or not you’re skating. You’ll always have a good time with Zion.” —Jonathan Perez

Zion photo9 750pxBackside overcrooks a 13 then a 20-piece chicken McNugget and a 64-ounce Mr Pibb. You still eat that stuff, Z?     Photo: Broach

“Zion is hella buck. The last time I skated with him was gnarly. He was out in Sac and we were skating that Safeway 13 rail—the one in the back—with a bunch of homies. We had this session going and after doing a front tail to fakie he kept rolling up for a back-three lip. He was scared to do it, rolling up a bunch, so he was like, ‘Fuck it, I’m gonna come back and do it but just film this real quick!’ He back 360d over the 13 rail in three tries! Threw it on the ‘gram. No big deal. He’s super powerful, skates like a grown-ass man. He’s always skated like that. He gets me hyped.”  —Miles Silvas

Zion photo9.5 750pxAfter jumping off the hotel balcony, this back lip was pretty low impact for Zion     Photo: Hammeke

“One time I shared a room with him on a trip and we were on the second floor of the hotel. We’d wake up, have to meet the van at 11 o’clock. I’d be getting out of the shower at 10:50 and rushing down stairs. He told me it was all good and to just meet him down there. I’m down there, look up towards the room to see Zion climbing over the balcony and jumping down to the van because it was quicker that way. He jumped off of a two-story drop to warm up! I would never want to do that first thing in the morning. He’s a beast. That’s how he warms up, though: a little barrel roll.” —Jafin Garvey

Zion photo10 750pxZion and Foy have put a hurtin’ on this kinker over the years, but Z gets last licks with a balanced backside 5-0     Photo: Morf

“One time at the local park that me and Tyson Peterson grew up skating, Zion came and was doing hella airs and shit on the vert wall. We had never seen a black kid do airs before! He’s just a little black kid doing airs and shit. We were so young, something like ten years ago. He started coming out with those Florida Daze video parts, jumping off cliffs and shit. He half-Cabed off a roof when he was, like, ten years old! Zion is the type of person who isn’t scared of anything. He’s always sending shit. He isn’t scared to buckle. Ever since he was little, he was always down. It’s amazing seeing him grow up from a little nappy-head kid to an incredible pro skater.”  —Ish Cepeda

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Zion photo11 750pxWhile Kader plots revenge, Zion bounces a back tail past the step     Photo: Broach

“Zion is from another planet. He actually comes from Jupiter! I admire Zion’s ambitious attitude to live life and his ability to create good relationships with other people. He takes action on being polite and considerate to his friends and the people around him, but Zion don’t take shit from nobody. He stands his ground and doesn’t skip a beat, as shown in his skateboarding. Being that he grew up skating with Jamie Foy, they are inspired by one another and feed off each other’s energy. Nonetheless, every time I skate with Zion I see his dedication to being a pro skater pushing the limits of progression. Zion Wright is strictly BRUTE!” —Torey Pudwill

Zion photo11.5 750pxHe’s a nice guy but he beat this rail into submission. Take no shit, Z     Photo: Hammeke

“A couple weekends ago we were all skating these ledges. Zion and CJ were torturing me because I was annoying the fuck out of them. I focused my board, then CJ wanted to focus it some more. I was so hyped that I snapped CJ’s board. He turned around and puts me in a headlock all the way back to the van. Zion decides to start punching me, too, because he saw CJ doing it. Zion is still trying to beat the shit out me even though I didn’t do shit to him. That motherfucker wanted to beat me up for no reason. He tortures me, but one day I’m going to be bigger than him and beat the shit out of him.” —Kader Sylla

Zion photo12 750pxLighting up ol’ Blighty with an ollie up to a fleet-footed frontside flip to the road     Photo: Morf

“Going on trips with that dude, you never know. He’s the youngest dude in the van but he’s the one that’s going to get down. You never know what the fuck he’s going to do. He can do anything—get him on a surfboard, a vert ramp or a 12-stair rail, he’s going crazy.” —Kyle Walker

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Zion photo12.5 750pxPhoto: Morford

“He’s just a meatball full of energy and really good at making friends at every town he goes to. If you’re hyping it up or someone in the van is trying to get shit going, he’s going to be the one feeding off of that and firing it up. He probably gets the most clips out of everyone on every single trip. He’ll be the dude that’s not trying too hard but he’ll get three clips a day for ten days straight. You’re going over all of the footage and you’re, like, ‘Damn, Zion got 15 tricks in six days!’ He’s one of those dudes where you can bring him to any spot. He’s easy to work with. Wherever you bring him, he’s going to skate it and probably get something gnarly. Sometimes I feel bad bringing someone to a 20-stair handrail just to check it out, but Zion likes 20-stair handrails. I don’t feel bad. He’s progressed in ways besides skating, too. He knows how to hang in the van now, as opposed to when he was first coming around. We would always give him shit because he had no van etiquette. He would be in the very back of the van, trying to reach for the aux cord, just falling all over everybody and stuff like that. We picked on him. He’s figured it out a little more and can give everyone else shit back now. He can take it and dish it back. As for skating, everyone kind of knew he was going to be the gnarliest. It was just a matter of time. He’s just killing it out there.” —Tim Fulton

Zion photo13 750pxPhoto: Morford

“We’re always filming each other skating, making sure we have things on point. It feels like two rappers going into the studio, like Tupac and Biggie in the booth. That’s how me and Zion are at the park. The vibe that we have, no one can describe. I love the kid and I’m happy to see where he is today. He deserves everything that he gets. I want to see him thrive and get even bigger. I’ve always told him, ‘No matter how much money or place you get, always stay true to your heart.’ That’s one thing that I know about him—he’ll always stay true to his heart. He’s the most humble kid I’ve ever met and no matter what situation or wherever I go, he’s always talked about by people. He’s the life of the party, everybody loves him, most respectful kid, never disrespecting anybody—unless someone disrespects him. Then you gotta know my nigga gotta put it down on them. I put it in his brain that no matter what, home is where the heart is. He’s knows that one hunnid! Every time he comes home, he’s always wondering where the homies at. No matter who we’re with or what we’re doing, we always have to have fun. It all comes down to him having fun. The sky’s the limit for him. He can go anywhere after this. Zion, don’t let these niggas discourage you. Do your thang. Keep your ear to the earth and let your nuts drag!” —Laroi Wright (brother)

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Zion photo13 750pxZion let his nuts drag all over this legendary LA spot. Half-Cab backside Smith     Sequence: Hammeke

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