BLADE LIFE: The Rob Zbranek Story
I first met Rob in the summer of ‘98, at the local skating rink in Corpus Christi, TX. “City Skates” was the place to be at the time. They had the traditional skating rink in the middle, and off to the side was a miniature skate park set-up. Ballpark nachos, sick grind rails, girls in booty shorts, ghetto rap music and dope sessions were what was happening on Saturday nights.
We all got kicked out of the rink eventually, but it was cool, because that was the beginning of our progression, our lives taking shape. At the time, Corpus had no public skateparks, so we opted to take our skating from the rink to the streets of downtown Corpus Christi. We quickly accepted the fact that downtown was our new skating rink, and we had more than nachos and prop rails. We had huge stair rails, bums with shanks, prostitutes, and a kick-ass view of the bay.
Rob was a few years older than us rollerbladers, so he was the only one who had a car. Unlike most kids his age, Rob had no problem luggin’ us around town to go skate other local spots. Everyone quickly recognized Rob for his dope personality and never-before-seen talent. Rob urged others to skate and helped motivate those of us who already skated. Rob became a reason to roll and a reason to take that next step. In no time, we had developed a friendship that no one could take away.
Skating with Rob was crazy though. We’d be skating some dope ledges one minute and next thing you know we’d be in an all out brawl with some spectator that said the wrong thing. Rob took rollerblading seriously. It was his life. He began to travel the United States to do what he loved. His charismatic personality and dope skills took him to where he wanted to be. He was rollerblading and chilling with Charles Dunkle, Micah Yeager, Anthony Medina, Mike Martino, Louie Zamora, Cazey Bagozzi, and people from all over the world. Rob Appeared in Dave Paine’s “VG 16” and had a profile in Tal Mor’s “Against the One Way.” Rob was known as the crazy guy from Texas that can hold his own in life and on the blades.
Months after filming for “Against the One Way,” in April of 2003, Rob was sentenced to five years in prison for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (a vehicle); it was essentially road rage. Although Rob admitted he deserved some form of punishment, five years was pretty harsh. His family and friends were crushed. My best friend was gone. Rob could no longer rollerblade. His rollerblades went from being on his feet everyday to being in his closet for five years.
He spent five long years of his life confined to a cell in different prisons all over Texas. In the little free time he had, he played handball, ping pong, and became certified to work on A/C units. He spent most of his time in his cell reading letters, writing poetry, looking at pictures, and reading Daily Bread Magazines, thinking about what he used to be a part of. He never forgot his roots and remained Rob Z, the crazy guy from Texas, the rollerblader from The Lone Star State that was destined for some kind of comeback, some kind of renewal. He stood his ground for five years flat and was released in Huntsville, TX in May of 2008.
Friends and family from all over gathered at the SYF skate cru house in Corpus Christi for Rob’s welcome home party. Micah Yeager, Anthony Medina, Pat Leal, all the old local rollerbladers, and even Chris Farmer showed up to pay their respect. The next morning Rob wanted to go check out the new park. He skated up to the sketchiest square rail I’ve ever seen and switch royaled it. I kept telling him to stop trying things he hadn’t attempted to do in years. He refused. He skated for at least two hours straight, killing the new park. He wanted to try out all the new skates and wanted to see all the new videos.
It’s been a year and a half now that Rob has been a free man and I am glad to be able to once again say, “I’m going to skate with Rob Z”. He skates fast, jumps high, makes everything look good and gets you juiced to try stuff you never thought you could do. Rob spends all the free time he gets traveling, rollerblading, and enjoying life. He’s just quickly catching up on everything he’s missed out on. So don’t miss out on Rob. If you ever have the opportunity to skate with Rob or even chill with him, remember to shake his hand and say “Hi.” People like Rob Z don’t come around very often. — James Richter
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Robs a a guy that makes you love rollerblading each and everytime you put on your skates, even in old age. Im glad to have the guy as a friend and feel sorry for anyone stupid enough to mess with him. http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d115/d_pollux/DSC_3519.jpg
SYF What ? You Won’t……Words often spoken from the beast man him self and Rob really destroys everything he skates,Ive seen it……………….
FUCK YES! Rob Z is a legend and I am glad One gave him some recognition.Great job guys!
rob you do pump people up! its not a lie that you are one of the coolest peeps i have ever had the pleasure to skate with and meet, much love from the rgv
“People like Rob Z don’t come around very often.” Very true… Rob is a savage and inspiration on blades.
I met Rob out in San Fransisco when “Against the One Way” was being filmed. This is around 2001 and the summer I fell off the roof at glen cove. He was dedicated to say the least making drives from Texas to NorCal in his truck to film for Tal’s video. Shortly after he got sent way and I haven’t seen since. I’m glad someone finally shared his story.
Fuckkkkk Yeahhhhhh! Awsome. SYF What!
Seeing Rob in an online skate mag didnt seem possible for about 5 years. Im glad to have my ace deuce back and hope someone gets their shit together and hooks him up with a trip out to cali or something. Rob is really good at skating, really good at making you laugh, could prolly beat your ass with one finger, and needs to be showing these young guns how rollerblading is done. anyone who has skated with rob knows that these pics and videos do little justice. Rob can fuckin blade!
Rob is actually THE man.
one point to emphasize here– this isnt about some antique blader who used to shred and never stopped loving it. notice the skates and gear? these photos are new– rob’s skating, believe it or not, is better and more stylish than ever.
someone sponsor this man.
rob’s raw talent, dedication, work ethic, people skills, and enthusiasm for rollerblading truly make him the ideal pro.
Aside from that, Rob, congratulations on this article and on inspiring everyone around you. It is really special to go to jail for that long and come back so strong in blading and in your other walks of life. You’re the only blader i know thats done real time, but ur also the one who has their shit together the most. thats why everyone travels across such a retardedly huge state to stay at your house.
SYF- Shhhhhut Your Face
Dope ass pics Greg. Dope ass write-up J Rich. And Rob….143 homie. Don’t ever fucking question that.
Robert Zbranek is one of the realest people i have ever met. When he went to prison a little bit of all of us went with him. That extra juice at the session was lost and slowly the sessions got smaller and smaller. People stopped coming to corpus and we lost ties with a lot of friends from other cities. Since Robs return we have had the opportunity to throw the SYF BBQ and have had numerous visits from people all over the state. The scene in Corpus Christi has been resurrected and is thriving. For alot of us Rob had been the rock that held this state together and i know i speak for most Texas rollerbladers when i say this small showcase of his skating is long overdue.
So in conclusion i would just like to say
SHUT YOUR FACE
Rob Z love you brother! Great artical James on a very worthy subject. Rob Z embodies my vision of what rolling should be.
I had the pleasure of bringing in the New Years with Rob and my god was it a massacre. The SYF guys kill and thats all you need to know.
SYF WHATTTT!!!!!!!!!!! KILL IT! ROB Z IS ONE OF THE MOST LEGIT PEOPLE ALIVE!
Rob Z is the shit…straight up!
guy is a lot like myself. hope i meet em one day.
Rob Z= a reason why I blade.
“Shut yo FacesH!”
Hell yeah! “People like Rob Z don’t come around very often.” That is so true! I have only met him once and you don’t forget a person like Rob Z!
Crazy, I never knew this guy was the rel deal. I’m no blader but much respect. He killed the McAllen park a few days ago. Or weeks? Fucking awesome props.
This guy is indeed very talented at rollerblading. I dont live anywhere near texas nor have I even met him but I know this guy has got some skills for sure. This was a great read and even I was wondering what happened to him and now I know so thanks one.
Yeah superstar Z back in effect! SYF What!
hell yeah ROB Z the man the legend SYF WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Way to go Rob, this is awesome! You have great talent and even greater friends! I’m proud of the person you have become! Thank you James for writing this and thank you Greg for taking the pics – you guys have talent too! Thanks to everyone for their support towards Rob and our family through it all!
ayeeeEEEEEE!!!!! I love this guy. Pretty good author, too. I love that guy. SYF rocks and rolls. I know. I’m a SYF mom.
ROB Z holds it down like no other and skating with this crazy mothafucka is a great experience for all. coming outta jail bustin tru fishes on ledges like what…… SYF ALL DAY
og homie… glad your still killing man. Glad your free and able to enjoy the freedom of skates on ur feet. Doing what you love once again….and better then ever.
Hit me up man! Been a minute since we’ve chatted.
frkn sweet dude.. awsum!
hell yeah, rob and greg make a great team…
if you dont think so,
Shut Your Face
As my brother so eloquently stated, “People like Rob Z don’t come around very often.” I could not agree more, but I want to point out that not only can Rob Z blade, he brings out the best in others. I may have hung my rollerblades up a long time ago(or sold them to Tim), but I will never forget the impression Rob Z left on me. He made me strive for more. I remember way back in 2000, I wanted to kind grind to revert this rail with a kink on the end. After about 50 failed attempts I was ready to go home. “No,” said Rob Z. After another 50 failed attempts or so I started getting tired, it was getting dark, and I again said I wanted to go home. And again, Rob Z said, “No.” He pulled his truck up, shined his headlights toward the library rail and said, “Pussy, you won’t.” I landed it on the next try. I will never forget that night because I would not have succeeded if it wasn’t for Rob. He made me think of things differently. I failed 100 times before I succeeded once, but that is all it took. He made me realize that you will never achieve anything in life if you are afraid of failing. Though I no longer blade, his influence transcends rollerblading has influenced me to succeed in other ways and accomplish more that I ever imagined. Thanks baby bro for writing such a good article, and thanks to Rob Z for being you. 143. Syf What! Rob, you won’t.
THATS MY DAWG !!! this motha fucka is the reason i still love blading so much today…. there is nothing better than watching rob ice a top mistrial…. damn bobby you are the man.
We are very proud of you!!! Keep your Dreams alive!!! We all beleive in you!!! Hope to see you soon!!!
Aunt Debbie & Uncle Bo
Hello People, the Boys got Talent!!!!! Its been a long time sence I’ve seen him but can’t wait to tell him…. PROUD OF YOU MAN! Showed your little cuzens they were excited to see you do what you do best. Keep living the dream. Erin G
Congrats on this amazing article Rob. You have some mad talent there is no denying that! And I agree you are ONE crazy dude & a great friend! Love Chillin with the SYF Crew…. SYF What!!!!!
welcome back to blading Rob!
Holy Shit you guys! I really appreciate the love & support! So insane hearing all this feedback! They say every person you meet is a piece of you to rag on a cliche, but you all have affected my life more than you know. All the random letters I received while I was away pulled me thru! You don’t really know who your friends are until you go away for awhile! Thanks to ONE & to Greg King for being so damn legit with a Canon Eos! See you all @ THE Hoedown!! Rollerblade or Perish! S Y F .
kudos! What a great read. ONE mag is a beast when it comes to finding talent nowadays. Its been a minute since weve skated, Rob hit me up buddy, u know where im at in the hills if u ever make it out to Cali again.
o ya TCL!
Rob Z…..:)It was a pleasure to finally meet you. Your a great guy… Hope to see you again soon.
Terrie from Montana.
rob zbranek is one badass motherfucker
re Jew gibson dude. Whats your deal. r u a yid or not.
im actually a Jew living in Israel studying to be a rabbi. i grew up in london to a secular family and became religous about 7 years ago since i believe that judaism is the absolute truth.
Before i became observant i was heavily into skating and still follow it and once in a while go skating. Rolling is the one thing from my old life which i am still connected to. Im 25 and was skating since i was 10 so i saw a lot of progression in the sport.
Awesome story Rob, and great article James. I’ve only hung out with Rob on a few lucky occasions, but I know he is an awesome guy and mean the world to Jeff and his family. We love you Rob! 143! Syf what!
WOW this is great!! I just want to say that I have had the privilege of knowing Rob for many, many years and consider him one of the greatest people I know and have ever met. There is no doubt that he has talent and a passion for rollerblading but he is also an amazing person! I have watched his transformation and it amazes me. Thank you Rob for being an inspiration to me, you have truly changed my life forever!
I’m so proud of you Robz, I know what this means to you!! You deserve it! Don’t forget hot pockets and flamin hot cheetos! ha.. love you!
BTW.. James you did a great job writing this!! SYF!!
Feel good Article of the year? Win!
If there’s anyone that get me excited to skate with, it’s Rob Z. You’re a beast man keep tearin it up!
Honestly, I stumbled on this website tonight just looking to see if there is still much of a scene here in Corpus and man I caught the stoke just seeing recent photos of CC spots!!! I don’t know Rob but his personality sounds like he’s a dude I’ve got to meet. Maybe I’ll see some of y’all around town, I haven’t got back into skating because I really thought the Corpus scene was done. But small and passionate is how a scene progresses.
I love this,great job James!! I have had the pleasure of knowing RobZ since childhood. We used to “skate”together in Jr. High, well id watch him skate,I had stupid rollerballs!! We used to get into all sorts of trouble when we were younger. Nothing broke my heart more than hearing the words “I got 5 years” come out of his mouth. Never did I once think he would forget about his passion in Rollerblading and writing. I would send him rollerblading pics amd poetry to keep his drive alive!! Doesnt suprise me that he continued to follow his dream, he is the reason I follow mine and RobZ had a huge inspiration on my life and Im sure to others as well!!Imagine it,Live it, and die knowing you did it!! SYF!!!