If you’ve got a Billy O’Neill pro anything—skate, wheel, frame, etc.—hold onto that shit because they won’t be making anymore.
At the age of 30, on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, Billy “Fish” O’Neill announced via Facebook that he would be retiring from professional rollerblading.
Earlier this week, Billy spent a little bit of his free time to answer a couple of questions.
‘Respect the game’
Fish: Essentially it means I’m not obligated to produce content, nor am I confined to using certain sponsors’ products.
BK: So you’re essentially going back to where you started…blading because you love it?
BK: What brought about the decision?
Fish: There were a lot of contributing factors. For one, I never wanted to be a pro that lingered after their prime. I never liked that. Another one is, at my age (just turned 30) I felt for the first time ever that my commitment to professional blading was doing more harm to my personal life than good. But the main one is, my goals have changed as I aged and I want different things out of life. I felt like the only way to achieve these goals is to totally detach myself from the professional end of blading. I will always blade forever…it is a huge part of what defines me as a person, but I mentally needed some distance from the “industry” end of it.
BK: While not being pro, you still going to be part of CO and SSM?
Fish: I’m going to maintain my ownership at CO and I will still be involved over there, but other than that, I have no other commitments any longer.
BK: You still repping Shredweiser though, right?
Fish: Shredweiser to me is just friends, so yea, all those guys are still my friends. Chris (Dafick) kills it, I really like the direction he’s going with everything.
BK: Word. So the big question: what are you up to next?
Fish: Probably porn.
Honestly, I’m not sure the answer to that. I will work. Try to get comfortable. Find a suitable mate. Hopefully reproduce. Grow up… I mean, I don’t have an exact plan on how to achieve that, but I got the hard part down… knowing what I want.
BK: Always good to know to know what you want. All those years bouncing around, traveling, and blading help in your decision to go for—for lack of a better word—a little stability?
Fish: Totally man. I’ve been a pirate since the day I was born. That’s all I knew how to be and in blading, I was rewarded for this behavior. I have Peter Pan syndrome. I didn’t wanna grow up and I still don’t. I’ve been fighting adulthood with everything in me for years. I had a long run and a great time. I know the pro blade life, inside and out… Now, I wanna know what the other side of life is like.
BK: If one of your kids wants to grow up and be a pro rollerblader, would you encourage or discourage it?
Fish: I would encourage them to do anything that makes them happy. Period.
BK: What about gay rodeo clown?
Fish: If it makes them happy, I’d support it. Very dangerous career choice though, but if that’s what they want.
BK: So, while you search for your homestead, where you at now?
Fish: I’m back in NYC. Staten Island to be exact
BK: You think you’ll be there for a while? You doing the Invite again?
Fish: Yeah, I wanna stay here for a bit, I like it here. About the Invite, I want to do another… we’ll see
BK: Any parting thoughts?
Fish: Maybe just some advice to young bladers from an old man… respect the game.
A Dual-Coasted Legend
Forged harder than the steel in the Empire State Building, Billy O’Neill is New York City’s Prodigal son, forever returning from the ashes of major injury to prove that skating has new areas to explore.
From birth on the Brooklyn Banks, Billy has always found a new challenge and never once convinced himself it wasn’t worth the risk. Because of and with him, street skating has progressed to death-defying levels and reborn everyday at dawn after many late hours spent in celebration.
Of his skates, Billy is a philosopher, musician, and possesses the cunning charm bestowed to world travelers. Figured in with his athletic prowess, the man can only be classified under “Enigma.”
While gone from New York for a while, he was in Oakland with the rest of his Shredweiser family. If it wasn’t Oakland or New York, he traveled the world, making video sections that have been re-watched until the DVD is burned blank.
Even his last edit proved that pro or not, the Peter Pan syndrome will always bring him back and we’ll always learn something new every time he does.
I’m really glad Billy and I had the opportunity to become friends. From holding the hash pipe for me while getting my “Blade or Die” tattoo while interviewing Bolino at the Shredweiser house to late-hour conversations about anything from philosophy to women.
In the end, Bill not only excelled at skating, but he knew how to make sure to have a good time. I think the decision will be good for him, allow him to ease up, and see what’s next for him. Whatever he chooses, he’s destined to be damn good at it.
So long, and thanks for everything, Fish.
Blade or Die,
— Brian Krans
P.S. — While Fish may be ready to settle down, I have some traveling to do to promote my writing. So I’m bugging you guys, my sponsors, to fund it. The majority—75%—is funded, but just like trying to eat an entire pizza yourself, the last quarter is always the hardest.
Check out the Kickstarter for my next novel, Assault Rifles & Pedophiles: An American Love Story.
Fish read my books. You should, too.