Sometimes content plans don’t work out — in fact, a lot of times. And our archives are deep with unseen photos that we’re just now reassessing and looking to get out into the world. So that’s fun! Along those lines we found a set of images of Kevin Yee by talented Minneapolis-based photographer Mike Lufholm that were originally intended for what would have been the sixth Digi issue. Now, nearly three years later, we decided they were too cool to sleep on so we reached out to bladers that have spent considerable time with Kevin and asked them to speak about their friend in their own words. What follows are thoughtful responses from Hayden Ball, Shane McClay, Erick Garica and John Haynes giving insight into the legacy of a modern rolling artist.
* * * *
I first met Kevin in the cafeteria at the Grossmont junior college in San Diego. He was playing ping pong. I went over to his place once and watched the section he was filming for VG. I remember thinking this guy is good and skates really different than everyone. He moved to up to northern California soon after.
Kevin and I crossed paths again in San Francisco. I would stay at the infamous 29th Street house with Leno, Bails, Crob Zombie, and Boozeman. What a magic time to live in the city of dreams. A house full of bladers with a constant flow of guests. Some of the regular visitors like Sean Cullen, Tommy Boy, John Vossoughi and Thomas Mcgovern came through with an added spark of comedy and energy.
Kevin was living in Oakland but came to blade in the city often. During one of my visits, Cullen, Kevin and I went skating together. Cullen was speaking highly of Kevin’s skills and I saw why.
Kevin’s blading is creative and original. He can skate anything. He’s got tech tricks and stunts. He’s one of the most talented guys I’ve skated with.
Kevin is one of the most positive and hyped dudes I know. When he was on a mission to get clips there was nothing stopping him. He’s the guy who gets off his 9 to 5 job and wants to get clips. He’s the guy who makes everyone he skates with better because of his energy. He’s the man. — Hayden Ball
I know that he goes by Kenji now and his style and personality is one of the most infectious to be around, when I go out skating I tend to look at things and think “what would Kenji do” and try to think of all possibilities even though I will always come short when it comes to his mind. He’s one of —if not THE — originator of mushroom blading and looking at things like art, and I’m for sure extremely lucky to have him as my friend!
His approach to skating is like a rorschach tests, where a shrinks ask you what you see in the black and white picture, but for it’s his skating! – Shane McClay
Kevin made his introduction into my life by the way of Videogroove Magazine #23. His “mini file” stood out so much, there was no way I would forget some of the tricks he laced in that section. Being a tall skater as well, I appreciated a lot of the tricks he was trying. It wasn’t until he moved to Berkeley, California to go to college when we actually met and started skating together. We meshed well, but I knew Kevin’s skating was very well beyond the level I was at, so watching him destroy the city of San Francisco wasn’t much of a surprise to me. Kevin skated anything and everything. Even if it was right outside the front of your house. He definitely made his mark out of here in NorCal and his video edits will be his legacy of what true street skating is. — Erick Garcia
In high school, Kevin ran a website called MPLS Abilities. It was just photos he snapped of his friends with his little digital camera, which at the time was a novelty because no one really had a digital camera. Me following him around lead to me living with him when I moved to San Diego right after high school. I had no friends, no money, and no clue, but I really cherished the time I spent blading with Kevin. He was one of the first super good skaters I had regular access to, and I learned a ton about shooting skating from shooting with him. Now we see each other sporadically; friendships can be hard for two adults to keep up. Every time we get together, it’s fun and new. It’s really fun to think that the kid from MPLS Abilities became one of my best life-long friends. – John Haynes
Photos by Mike Lufholm and John Haynes