Skateboard Rules (for the New Economy) 

This 17-year-old punk from the suburbs rides a skateboard, loves his mom, and uses the N-word. He'll probably make $80,000 next year.

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Corey hit the first bump in his young, rocky career two years ago. Carroll took Corey and other amateurs to a contest in Tampa, Florida, to compete and gain exposure. Corey showed up sporting his new punk look, wearing torn-up skintight jeans and a T-shirt that read, "Who the fuck is Jim Grecko?"

Jim Grecko is a pro skater who rides for Baker Boards -- the anti-Think team. Baker's team shtick is one of hard-core punkers who canonize Sid Vicious, drink hard, and skate recklessly. They've nicknamed themselves the "Piss Drunx." Corey's on-the-surface punk rock appearance had some skaters and Internet fans making easy comparisons. A few snickered that Corey was nibbling on Grecko's style. The T-shirt gimmick made Corey and his friends laugh, though; it rang of self-mockery. But the stunt peeved Carroll.

"Obviously this kid didn't want to be with us," Carroll says. At the competition, Carroll asked Andrew Reynolds, Baker's team manager, if he wanted Corey to ride for his team. Reynolds agreed, and an arrangement was made. Carroll returned from Florida relieved, and Corey was happy to roll with the industry's rebel outfit.

Two days later, Reynolds called Corey at home and revoked the offer. According to Corey, his new image was too similar to that of Grecko, who already had established himself as Baker's house Ramone. "He thought the kids would start liking me over him," Corey says.

Left high and dry without a board sponsor, Corey went back to working the phones and cultivating interviews. He got one with Big Brother.

4. Avoid Stevie Williams

After Corey's Thrasher apology appeared, he was technically off the hook -- he'd done the public apology thing and he'd vowed to be a better person for it. Sharon sat down with Corey and fished around for some answers. "We shed a lot of tears over what Corey said," Sharon says, still not sure what motivated her son. "Corey thought he'd go for it, and I don't know why he said what he said, other than he was an immature sixteen-year-old kid who didn't realize what he was saying or how many people would read it."

Sharon eventually wrote a letter to Big Brother, apologizing on behalf of Corey and her family to anyone who took offense. "But Corey asked me not to send it." So she didn't.

The following issue of Big Brother was themed "Rebuttals!" and wrapped an entire edition around pro skater Stevie Williams' response to Corey.

To understand what Williams' response meant, imagine Barry Bonds acknowledging the trash talk from a single-A left-fielder down in San Jose. On the commercial totem pole of skating, Stevie Williams is perched at the top -- he's got the high-end sponsors, a video game, the coveted shoe contract, and earns, according to the best estimates of industry wonks, about $500,000 a year. Williams' image is couched in hip-hop; he wears balloon pants, a baseball cap worn sideways, and platinum and diamond chains. In short, the whole bling-bling.

In his interview, Williams dismissed Corey for a fool, questioned his upbringing, and then issued a sort of skateboarding fatwa. "Corey, don't be afraid of me, just be afraid of my soldiers who got my back. I'm not going to touch you. I don't like you, but I'm not going to touch you."

Williams concluded by asking Corey to stay away. "If you see me, Corey, don't come up to me to apologize."

5. Call Stevie Williams

Corey called Stevie Williams anyway. The kid wanted to make things right. He called Williams' shoe company, DC, and his deck sponsor, Chocolate, but heard nothing back. (Williams also didn't respond to interview requests for this article.)

At skater gatherings that followed, an uncomfortable cloud of anticipation surrounded Corey. Friends teased him to keep his head up and just take the beating when it came. Corey says minority skaters who took offense at his comments have approached him and the conversations always have ended in a deep apology and a handshake.

"I don't know why I said it," Corey says now. "My brain wasn't working that day. I was just saying anything, trying to go along with the Big Brother interview, thinking I was being funny. I was just so excited to have an interview at that time."

Corey's friends and family members believed the Big Brother interview had exposed not his racism, but his ambition.

"I read right through it," says Ed Templeton, owner of Toy Machine skateboards, who's known Corey for a few years. "He paints himself in corners with his mouth all the time. He'll say anything, and not really consider the consequences of what he's saying. The things he said were brash and definitely offensive, but anyone who knew Corey knew what he was really doing."

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