NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider Olympics

Who Is Jagger Eaton? Meet the Pro Skateboarder Stopping at Nothing to Win

America’s high-flying phenom is poised for a double dose of glory in Paris.

By Andrew Woodin

When the 2024 Summer Games kick off in Paris, France, there will be a plethora of stellar American athletes whose accolades from past Olympiads or other elite level tournaments make them must-watch TV for fans tuning into the NBC and Peacock coverage this July.

But with that box office draw comes a litany of expectations… Expectations to not only perform at a high caliber, but to win and win big. There’s Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel in swimming; Simone Biles and Suni Lee in women’s artistic gymnastics; LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum in basketball — take your pick of America’s best-of-the-best, the expansive spectrum of greatness is utterly staggering, no matter the event. 

That said, those are names we’re all accustomed to seeing and who we’ve all come to appreciate over the years for their tremendous talents as well as their contributions to society away from their sport of choice. But standing just out of the blinding spotlights intended for those supernovas is another bona fide star, poised to insert his name alongside the aforementioned gold medalists as he seeks to again stamp his name in the Olympic history books: Jagger Eaton. 

RELATED: Pro Skateboarder Nyjah Huston Hopes to Inspire Kids to Chase "Their Dreams" at the Olympics

His Early Life

Jagger Eaton holds a thumbs up in a blue plaid shirt.

Born February 21, 2001 in Scottsdale, Arizona, to elite gymnasts, parents Geoff Eaton and Shelly Schaerer — a member of the United States gymnastics team from 1985-1989 — with a name like Jagger, after the Rolling Stones’ hip-swinging lead singer, some might say that it was always in the 23-year-old’s destiny to leave audiences around the world gobsmacked by his talent, and they’re not far off. 

Skating at a high level by the time he was four, Eaton was a skateboarding prodigy in every sense of the word, and it was love at first sight when he initially touched a skateboard.

“I started skateboarding because my dad got me a skateboard for Christmas, and I just couldn’t stay off it for the rest of the year,” Jagger told Cronkite News in 2016. “My favorite thing about skateboarding is… It’s just freedom. I can go on my skateboard and not have any worries about anything.” 

While it was all fun and games at first, as Eaton cultivated his unparalleled talent, it was clear early on that the precocious youngster had found more than just a passion. His videos on YouTube quickly racked up record-setting views, and pretty soon, he was spending time with the Flying Tomato, Shaun White, at Woodward West, a summer camp in California where he first rode the X-Games 200-foot Mega Ramp. 

At the tender age of 11, Eaton became the youngest X-Games competitor at the time, according to his Red Bull bio. Soon after his X-Games debut, he stole the show as a 13-year-old at the Tampa Am — one of the world’s most prestigious skateboarding competitions. Then, in 2017, he solidified his presence in the global skateboarding community by capturing the gold medal at that year’s X-Games as well as winning the highly lauded Phoenix Am in his home state. He gobbled up a myriad of other accolades in 2018, including an X-Games silver medal and a win at Estonia’s Simple Session, among others. 

As Eaton’s stock continued to rise, garnering major sponsors and impressing industry veterans like Rob Dyrdek and Tony Hawk, something that once felt like an elusive fantasy goal soon became an achievable target: competing at the Olympic Games under the Stars and Stripes banner of the United States. Not only did Eaton accomplish that goal, he also became the first American to win an Olympic medal in skateboarding (men’s street event) at the Tokyo Games all while enduring the pain of a broken ankle.

"I feel like I've had this dream since I was a kid," Eaton told Craig Melvin and Al Roker in an interview for TODAY in 2021. "When I got the opportunity three years ago to compete for my country, it blew my mind, and the fact that I'm able to sit up here with a bronze medal — I'm just the most ecstatic kid alive right now." 

RELATED: Is Katie Ledecky Retiring After the 2024 Olympics? Here's What the Olympic Swimmer Says...

The Eaton Family

Jett Eaton and Jagger Eaton smile on the orange carpet.

While Jagger Eaton displayed a jaw-dropping amount of talent and fearlessness at a young age, Eaton credits his success to his mother Shelly and father Geoff. Besides being successful gymnasts in their own time, Eaton’s father Geoff, who was always interested in wakeboarding, skateboarding, and snowboarding, took over his dad’s Desert Devils gym in Mesa, Arizona and added the Kids That Rip (KTR) skateboarding park. What started out as Geoff’s way to provide his kids an outlet to explore their interests while ensuring they had plenty of exercise away from Arizona’s scorching summer heat quickly turned out to be a game-changing resource, paving the way for his son Jagger to safely develop his world-class skill.

“It was a dream childhood,” stated Eaton of learning to skateboard at KTR, reports Franchise Times. “It’s this safe environment where you can skate indoors for 12 hours.” 

“That’s when I realized I wanted to skate for the rest of my life," notes Eaton, per his Red Bull bio. "I started getting good and I was having so much fun. My dad showed me everything about skateboarding. I loved it from the very beginning.”

His family supported him in every facet they could, with Eaton telling TODAY that his parents’ influence on his musical tastes helped him create an eclectic playlist to fuel his adrenaline when he made his bronze medal-winning run in Tokyo. 

"Both my parents had a big love for music and a big passion for music when I was little," revealed Eaton, whose Olympic playlist includes “a bit of new rap and a little bit of old country music.” 

Jagger Eaton holds up his skateboard at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“They're the reason, obviously, why I have my name and kind of my music taste," he added. 

Speaking to NBC Sports ahead of the Paris Games, Eaton acknowledged the life-long impact his parents had in helping him pursue his dreams. Now, after his folks weren’t able to attend the Tokyo Games due to the pandemic, Eaton says he’s ready to move heaven and earth to ensure his parents have the opportunity to watch him in France.

“Oh my gosh, to have my parents there with me would mean everything, and I’m doing everything in my power to get them there,” Eaton revealed. “It’s going be tough. It should be a situation where it’s easy for the athletes to get their parents there, but my parents can’t afford all that. I’ll probably have to fund it and get them all out there, but that seriously… It doesn’t even matter about the medal.”

“I could give a sh-t about the medal,” he continued. “I want to get my parents there.”

RELATED: Pro Surfer Carissa Moore Reflects on Decision to Retire After 2024 Olympics: "It's Strange"

Embracing an Intense Work Ethic

Much of what has made Jagger Eaton’s journey so remarkable in such a short time comes from the guidance and tutelage he received from his parents as well as his intrinsic drive to always hone his craft. Those elements combined fostered his evolution into a brilliant competitor, and even after earning a bronze Olympic medal in Tokyo, there was always room for improvement. 

“I’ve changed so much as an athlete and as a person since Tokyo,” Eaton recounted to NBC Sports. “I think I’ve made a lot of decisions based on my ego and what would make me feel good when I was going into Tokyo and also the human that I was back then. Now, I feel like I have a really great sense of gratitude toward my life and what’s going on around me. I feel like I’m going into this Olympic run with a lot more Zen.”

Though his maturation has played a major part in his development as a professional skateboarder, his dedication to his physical health and what he puts into his body is of paramount importance to him.

“I think every athlete feels burnt out when they lose and when they’re injured,” recalled Eaton to NBC Sports. “It’s really just because you’re exhausted mentally and physically of going through so much torment. How I got through it was getting healthy and getting clutter [out of] my life.”

Jagger Eaton holds up flowers and a bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“I changed my diet. I quit drinking. I started really diving into spiritual enlightenment work, writing everyday, doing things to give me a better perspective on my life,” he continued. “From that point on I’ve been injury free, I’ve been more in love with skateboarding, and I’ve also been 100% accepting of failure, and understanding how much it’s going to take for these goals to be accomplished.” 

Like all sports, the game within the game often lies in the mental acuity and fortitude of the athlete, and Eaton, as mind-bogglingly talented as he is, is no different. As he notes, his preparation for France included tremendous focus on having a mindset that could stand up to the rigorous mental pressure of his gold medal-winning expectations. 

“There’s the underdog mindset and the mindset of a legend and basically the difference is that it’s way easier to perform when there is no pressure,” Eaton said in his discussion with NBC Sports. “That’s kind of what Tokyo was. I was the underdog going in. I hadn’t earned a medal in the street contest in a long time, and it was my time to just go and leave it all out there on the table. But now, I’m the first ever American skateboarding medalist in Olympic history. I’m a two-time world champion. Now there are expectations for me to perform.”

“I don’t know how I’m going to feel then but right now what I can tell you is that my habits and the way that I am under pressure is the best I’ve ever been,” he added. "Where my body is physically and mentally is the best it’s ever been. I think the difference between Tokyo and Paris is going to be my overall mindset going in.” 

Be sure to watch live coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 26, on NBC and Peacock beginning at 12 p.m. ET. Telemundo will provide Spanish-language coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Primetime coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC and Peacock.

Read more about: