Crowd gathers at Live Oak beach to share memories of Jay Adams
By Jessica A. York,Santa Cruz Sentinel

Surfers form a circle off of 26th Avenue Beach in Santa Cruz on Sunday during a paddle-out for Jay Adams. (Kevin Johnson — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

LIVE OAK >> The cheering and smiling surfers forming a ring around Seven Adams out on the water at the 26th Avenue Beach on Sunday were as easily celebrating a life as saying goodbye to one.

Seven Adams, of Santa Cruz, had the help of more than 40 surfers in the water and at least another 55 on dry land as he and others said parting words about his father, iconic skateboarder and surfer Jay Adams.

Jay Adams, 53, a teenaged member of the 1970s surf-inspired Dogtown and Z-Boys skate team, passed away in his sleep from an apparent heart attack on Thursday. He was in the midst of a three-month surfing trip in Puerto Escondido, Mexico with his wife Tracy, friends said.

Samantha Baglioni, 45, of San Clemente said Jay Adams was “a beautiful man and an amazing human being.

Baglioni and Jay Adams, who met in Hawaii and later moved to Santa Cruz, are the parents of Seven Adams, who has a “huge hole in his heart” from his father’s death.

“Not just to lose your father, but to lose Jay Adams as your father,” Baglioni said. “Jay was just larger than life.”

In the 2001 documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys,” Jay Adams is the towheaded and angel-faced skateboarding prodigy with a rebellious streak. Later, he was portrayed by actor Emile Hirsh in the 2005 film “Lords of Dogtown.” As the youngest member of the group that inspired a surf-style revolution in skateboarding technique, Adams went on to battle drug addiction and two stints in jail in his later years.

Baglioni said Jay Adams, who she described separately as a “tornado” and “Tasmanian devil,” took his fame and troubles with the same humility. He made a point to avoid the “hoopla” and treat everyone, the “bum on the street or the chick in the Porsche,” equally, Baglioni said.

“He did, obviously, you hear about him going to prison and doing drugs, but he was also someone who did it, he paid for it, and was someone who always made everything right,” Baglioni said. “If he did wrong, he was the first to admit it. He didn’t run from it. He was just 100 percent.”

Looking on from the beach as the wetsuit-clad group splashed and whooped in the water, Nick Bautista, 37, remembered back to when Jay Adams, a friend of his older brother, lived for a time with his family in Santa Cruz. It had been years since the two friends had seen each other, Bautista said, but they kept in touch through Facebook.

“He was an innovator,” Bautista said. “He was just a killer dude all around, ripping everything.”

Bautista said a similar memorial paddle-out was scheduled for the same time as Santa Cruz’s, in Jay Adams’ hometown of Venice.

Steve Thatcher, 58, of Los Gatos, stood just down the beach, pointing out to where a whale had spouted water just beyond the ring of surfers.

Thatcher said he and Jay Adams competed in skateboard competitions — Northern California versus Southern California — in the 1970s and 1980s. Since that time, Thatcher kept track of his former competition through his brother, a former editor for the skateboarding magazine Thrasher.

“There’s nobody who probably cemented the connection as well between surf and skate,” Thatcher said. “(Jay’s death) is really sad. But he lived hard. I can see how he would
go early, because he always did things twice as hard as everyone else.”

Surfers fill the waters off of 26th Avenue Beach in Santa Cruz on Sunday afternoon during a paddle-out for legendary surf and skateboarding icon Jay Adams. (Kevin Johnson — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Baglioni said if Jay Adams had to go, she was glad it was now, instead of 10 years ago. He had the “women of his dreams” in his wife and daughter Venice, and had made amends for his wrongs, was “right” with Seven Adams, and generally “was so happy.”

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