Zion Rick-Gains, blind teenager from San Francisco, pursues his dream of professional skateboarding

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — A San Francisco teenager pushes boundaries and refuses to give up on his dream. Zion Rick-Gains lost his sight last year and is still determined to become a professional skateboarder.

“It’s something really important and special for me and the fact that I can still do it, especially because of my accident, I can’t give up,” said the 19-year-old, a regular at skate parks in the city.

Zion is legally blind after being shot in a senseless act of gun violence and now has his new identity. Its 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 what the park is like, so I usually walk that way,” Zion said, using his cane to guide his way, patience and perseverance doing the rest.

“I’ll try anything until I get it right and sometimes I do it and sometimes I don’t, but it’s just a matter of practice,” Zion said, noting that his unwavering positivity is a product of his mother, Charmaine.

“Part of my motivation and part of my dedication and hard work and consistency, I had to learn these things and I learned them from my mother,” he said. “She raised me on her own for all these years, so a lot of my character and a lot of my way of being is a reflection of my mother.”

And Zion’s reluctance to give up captures the imaginations of fellow skaters and inspires them.

“He’s here to make good attempts at balance and when I go up, I immediately slip,” said Michael Zhang. “I see perfectly fine. I have 20/20 vision and he’s here doing this crazy thing.”

Zion himself admitting he doesn’t fully understand his ability. “I ask myself the same question. Sometimes I don’t even know how I’m doing. Engagement is definitely a big part of that,” Zion said, adding that the community also plays a big role.

“Skateboarding, you know, is a big family and we can all vibe with each other and hang out together.”

And when moments of frustration and fear descend upon him, Zion fights back.

“Things can look scary, but if you take risks and keep going, you could make it and that’s what I do.”

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