At 23, life hasn’t always been easy for Anthony Chavez, a former drug addict who dreams of one day becoming a professional skateboarder.
Even as an infant, Chavez said his biological father, a known gang member with the Westside Crips from Los Angeles, attempted to kill him. Although too young to remember the incident, Chavez does recall at age 13 witnessing his stepfather abuse his mother. She had her own problems battling drug addiction, which forced Chavez at an early age to serve as the father figure for his seven brothers and sisters.
“I had a really bad childhood,” Chavez said.
The unwarranted pressures of growing up fast subsequently led Chavez down a destructive path as a teenager. He also turned to drugs to escape, eventually dropping out of high school. So drunk at party one night, Chavez said he didn’t even know he had been shot.
“I woke up in the hospital with a bullet in my arm,” Chavez said. “I was in a bad place. It was a bad time in my life.”
Chavez revealed his story on Tuesday to Todd Hansen, creator and host of The Story Trek. A former reporter for KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City, Hansen said the Emmy Award-winning reality television series aims to reveal stories from quirky, serious, intelligent and fun people. Hansen said the show works, because everybody has an interesting story to tell.
“We meet people from all walks of life, and we meet them right where they are,” Hansen said. “No matter where the story begins, it almost always comes around to something positive.”
The notion held true for Chavez as he revealed his story to Hansen sitting atop a piano riser at the Cortez skate park. Clean of illicit drugs for the past three years, Chavez said he now leans on Steve Gomez, his uncle, who installs carpet for House of Carpets.
“I’m the best carpet installer in Montezuma County,” Gomez proclaimed before granting his nephew permission to knock off work early Tuesday to tape the television show. In addition to teaching the trade so Chavez can one day take over the family business, Gomez is also trying to instill the value of a strong work ethic to his nephew. Chavez appears to be absorbing the lessons, stating he was grateful to have a second chance in life.
“Uncle Steve saved my life,” Chavez said. “He looks to me as his own son. He’s like a father figure to me.”
Although Chavez described Gomez as an invaluable positive role model who has inspired him to earn his GED, the pressures of a “hard life” continue to bubble up from time to time. Chavez, however, has learned to channel his frustrations. His release: riding four wheels attached to a board across graffiti-painted concrete.
“Skateboarding is calm and peaceful,” he explained. “I put in my headphones, and it just takes all the stress away.”
Feeling healthier, happier and stronger today, Chavez said his goals were to continue working hard in the family business. He also wants to further support his brothers, sisters and mother, both financially and emotionally. His dream and passion is to one day become a professional skateboarder.
“It’s unbelievable how much better my life is today,” Chavez added.
“The Story Trek” crew discovered Chavez while touring Southwest Colorado earlier this week, filming unscripted and random interviews in Durango, Cortez and Dove Creek. Scouting the location was a three-part process. First, the names of all 50 states were placed in a hat. Colorado was drawn. Next, a dart was thrown onto a state map. It landed just east of Mancos. Third, a Sharpie was utilized to blindly determine a neighborhood from a map of Cortez. Parque de Vida was pinpointed.
Once the area was narrowed, Hansen started knocking on doors at the Parque De Vida townhomes, complete with camera and audio crew in tow. No one was at home for the first three attempts. But on the fourth door, the television crew found Chavez on his hands and knees installing carpet with his uncle.
“I appeared in a rap video once,” said a surprised Chavez, “but this is my first time featured in a television show.”
“The Story Trek” airs on BYUtv and is also streamed online at www.byutv.com. Chavez will be among those featured in the sixth season of the show, which premieres May 5.