MTV's Ryan Sheckler Details "Unmanageable" Addiction At the Height of His Teen Stardom

Fifteen years after Life of Ryan premiered on MTV, professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler reflected on struggling to grow up in the spotlight in an exclusive interview with E! News.

By Tierney Bricker Jul 22, 2023 2:00 PMTags
Watch: Ryan Sheckler Details "Unmanageable" Addiction During Teen Stardom

Fifteen years later, the life of Ryan Sheckler looks quite different.

The professional skateboarder kick-flipped over the line from athlete to celebrity when Life of Ryan premiered on MTV in July 2007.  The reality series followed a then-teenage Ryan—who was the youngest competitor ever to win X Games gold at 13—as he balanced his personal life and professional duties. 

Life of Ryan turned its young star into a household name and brought new fans into the world of skateboarding. But, ironically enough, it was the very community Ryan was hoping to shine a spotlight on that turned its back on him, accusing him of selling out.

"The hate started coming in from my peers that I respected and they were talking behind my back," Ryan told E! News in an exclusive interview. "I was just an easy target."

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Instead of backing down, Ryan admitted he doubled down, using the backlash as his motivation. 

"Honestly, it fueled me to skate harder and do more ridiculous things," he explained, pointing to his partnerships with Proactiv and Axe BodySpray. "I was like, 'I'm already getting hate, I might as well get paid and save some money for my future.'"

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After just three seasons, Ryan's bumpy ride on MTV came to an end when Life of Ryan ended in 2009.

But just because cameras stopped rolling didn't mean that Ryan did, continuing his ride as one of the most celebrated competitive skaters. But off his board, the athlete was locked in a private struggle, entering rehab to treat an alcohol addiction in 2016.

"I got caught up for years and it became unmanageable," Ryan, now 33, told E! News in an exclusive interview to promote his new documentary, Rolling Away, and Lifer, its accompanying video part. "My passion for skateboarding was overtaken by my desire to drink."

While the negativity Ryan faced as a child star definitely contributed to his alcohol consumption, which became an unhealthy coping mechanism, "I blame my drinking on myself," he stressed. "The show's not responsible for that. It was me."

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After maintaining his sobriety for several years, Ryan suffered a relapse in 2020 mistakenly feeling he could drink in moderation. But after five months, he chose to give up alcohol again.

"Being sober is the best decision that I made for my life," Ryan shared. "There's no checking out. I have to deal with these emotions that come up and that's where the power is."


Focused on "being present" means having "no regrets" about his reality TV past, with Ryan saying, "I had fun. It was cool." Not that it isn't "weird" when Life of Ryan comes up.

"It's so funny talking about my past because I don't miss the old days," he explained. "People recognize me, and it still trips me out to this day. I forget what my past has been."

The same can't be said for his wife Abigail Sheckler, who has occasionally wanted to watch old episodes, a shared viewing experience that he has vehemently opposed.

"I was a kid, so there's been a lot of life and a lot of growth that's happened," Ryan said. "And it's hard to watch. Some episodes is just like a bratty little kid. That's where my life was at at that point and I didn't know any different." 

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Ryan and Abigail got married on March 3, 2022, and welcomed daughter Olive Oleta on their first wedding anniversary. And the former MTV star has mixed feelings about possibly allowing his child to do a reality show, explaining he "got it easy" because social media didn't exist when Life of Ryan was airing. 

"I would have to have open conversation about what the pros and cons of that could possibly be and what her end goal would be for doing that," Ryan said. "That'd be a hard one. We'd have to really think about and it would be like a family decision. If we had 100 percent creative control over it? For sure. Because then we can make it what we wanted people to see, a wholesome show. But I don't think wholesome gets the views."

While Olive might not follow in her father's TV footsteps, she's already joined her dad on four wheels, giving a whole new and literal meaning to the phrase baby on board.

"I have definitely skated with her around the neighborhood a bunch," Ryan revealed. "She loves it. She loves the wind in her face and feeling the vibrations. So she's already crazy. My mom laughs and is like, 'That's exactly how you were, welcome to my life.'"

Now that's the new life of Ryan, which includes Rolling Away, his documentary that's been years in the making after he suffered several major injuries, including a cracked left ankle, a broken vertebra in his lower back and a torn ACL. The latter required surgery and a "year of gnarly recovery," Ryan said. 

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While his recuperation is documented in the film, it nearly derailed the entire project. Determined to return stronger than ever, Ryan fully committed to the healing process and "persevered through the fear."

During that time, Ryan gained 20 pounds of muscle, "reengaged" with religion, becoming a born-again Christian and was able to spend time with Abigail at the start of their relationship that he otherwise would have spent skating.

"I had the goal in mind that I'm coming back no matter what I'm going to finish this project," he recalled. "And I'm actually happy about the injury. I learned a lot. That was a chance for me to grow spiritually, mentally and physically."

Rolling Away and Lifer premiere on Red Bull TV July 28.

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