Few skateboarders, or celebrities in general, have experienced the rollercoaster ride of life that Bam Margera has. The born-to-fly extrovert with the larger than life personality has always been a catalyst for some incredibly memorable moments. From his local CKY skate crew days to the mayhem of MTV’s “Viva La Bam,” Margera has been a planetary force of his own, reaching levels of fame that rivaled Tony Hawk. However, the short-lived success all came to a screeching halt after years of hard partying and indifference reached its peak with the tragic and unfortunate death of a close comrade.
The story of Bam Margera’s meteoric rise and fall is truly a warning about the dangers of fame and allure. To tell the bittersweet tale is Viceland’s revamp of Patrick O’Dell’s “Epicly Later’d” series, which returns this year to vividly tell the gripping story. In what plays more like an episode of VH1’s “Behind The Music” than anything else, the premiere episode leaves almost no stone unturned as it takes viewers into the heavy world and history of Bam Margera. Everything from Bam’s early family life, where being the adrenaline-laced center of attention was normal, to his young adult years, where he became sponsored by Element Skateboards, showcases the tenacity of a prodigy who perceived no limits to his talent and ideas. The ferocity of his abilities were only matched by his insatiable appetite for laughs and danger. That combination is what allowed for the creation of skateboarding’s infamous CKY videos and ushered in the way for MTV’s “Jackass” and eventually his very own “Viva La Bam”.
But of course, no story about incredible gifts can exist without the eventual curses as well. Bam’s energy and vitality was the stuff of international pandemonium. The cocktail of his death-defying skateboard abilities, his addiction to thrills, and habitual rendezvouses with alcohol and drugs made for the perfect storm of celebrity power and personal strife. The same Bam that imagined and created so much of his world as a young boy was now doing the same as an adult, but this time without any restrictions or childhood safety nets of family and friends. Now, with television fame, it was all about upping the ante and outdoing the last stunt. The story goes on to depict how the travels and hi-jinx made for great ratings and popularity, but caused nothing but loneliness and strife in Bam’s person life. A battle with bulimia and alcoholism soon ensued and reached a terrible crossroad when friend Ryan Dunn was killed in a drunk driving accident. The catastrophic event tore the remaining sanity of Bam’s life into pieces and sent the icon down a very dark spiral of sorrow and self-loathing. The storm hit hard and there seemed like there’d be no end. Until that is, skateboarding showed its ever-present love.
Now, Bam’s back on the board, albeit not exactly at the pro level yet. But that’s alright because the road to sobriety seems to mirror just that, an uphill battle for a return to grace. It’s obvious that the man still has much more soul searching and forgiveness to reach within himself before he can fully let go of past mistakes and move on, but the point is that he’s pushing. And if you know skateboarding, the push is the most important part. Way before the tricks and the steez, there’s the push, where we all begin.
Like all paths of eventual sobriety, the effort is an everyday, 24/7 thing—again not too unlike skateboarding. You’ve got to struggle and really put in the work to garner the results, and hopefully, Bam’s continuing to do just that. Judging from recently flimed clips and tricks, there’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel and brighter days after the torrential downpour. Here’s to the returning legend and prodigal skater. Welcome back, Bam!