Alive & Unedited: O.J. Hayes

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

During the summer, Red Bull hosted its annual Manny Mania skateboard competitions in 15 cities across the country. A winner was crowned at each one, and fans were asked to pick their favorite from videos of finalists posted online. Meet O.J. Hayes, the Columbus champion who nearly grabbed the national title this year.


I'm originally from McMechen, West Virigina. It's just outside of Wheeling. It's just a small town, but there's a good skateboard scene there. That's pretty much all we had to do growing up.

When I was about 12, I saw the older, cooler kids around the neighborhood - the bad kids - skating and was influenced towards a life of crime from there.

Manny Mania is a contest that Red Bull puts on every year. Manny is an abbreviation for "manual," which is basically a wheelie on a skateboard. The contest is strictly manuals and ledge tricks. That's probably my forte in the skateboard world.

In Columbus, my favorite street spot is an up-ledge off of Fifth Avenue. I don't know what the building is, but in the parking lot, there's a ledge with angle iron on it. It's real fun.

Right now, I'm sponsored by Embassy skate shop up in Clintonville and Effort Skateboards out of Cincinnati. Some guys don't have to work and get paid to travel. For me, it means that my sponsors keep me in boards, keep me in shoes, stuff like that.

Knock on wood, I've never broken a bone. I've had to get stitches in my chin once. I've had to get stitches in my leg once. But, really, that's not too bad compared to a lot of people that I know who've had concussions, mass broken bones, torn ACLs.

The more I'm on my skateboard, the luckier I get.

At CCAD, I study time-based media studies, which basically entails animation, video and motion graphics. I'm having a lot of fun with it. My dream job would be doing something that involved art and skateboarding. If not, I'd settle for one or the other.

Three things I can't live without are a skateboard, a sketch book and a ticket to travel.

In spare time, I really like to travel around as many places as I can. I just bought a car, so I've been going all over lately. I find myself going to Chicago a lot. That has something to do with my girlfriend going to school there.

The coolest thing I own is a Moondog bobblehead. In Wheeling, there's a local legend named Moondog. He's a homeless guy that wears a fireman's outfit and rides a bike with 50 or so flags on the back. There's a minor-league hockey team in Wheeling, and for one game, they gave bobbleheads to the first thousand people who came through the door.

The best advice I've ever received is open up your funky mind and you can fly. That comes from a homeless man. I've actually gotten some good advice from homeless guys.

Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? E-mail John Ross at