The facts of Thalente Biyela's story are extraordinary. He grew up homeless, orphaned, physically abused, and addicted to drugs on the streets of Durban, South Africa, and has since overcome those circumstances to pursue a professional skateboarding career in Los Angeles. But the perspective and positivity he exudes in spite of those facts are what make Thalente such a rare human being -- and what I tried to convey in my profile of him, which was published on Page 1 of ESPN.com today and can be read at this link:
During my two reporting trips for this piece, one to L.A. in March and one to Durban in July, I took some pictures of the places I saw and people I met. Captions below each image.
Thalente during an afternoon skate session at Lance Mountain's house in L.A.
Bones Brigade legend Lance Mountain can still rip his backyard pool at age 50
Thalente and filmmaker Natalie Johns, at their home in Los Feliz
Thalente prepping the pool before dropping in
The beachfront skatepark that Thalente grew up ripping in Durban, South Africa
Elton-Lee Ireland, who gave Thalente a home when he was young, sitting in front of Gifford Duminy's mural of Thalente along the Durban beachfront promenade
Zulu kids at Indigo Skate Camp, in the Valley of a Thousand Hills outside Durban. The best of the bunch is a boy known as Two Chains (far right in the top photo)