Profile: Mike ‘Rooftop’ Escamilla
As a stuntman-come-BMX-pro-come-shark-diver, Mike Escamilla knows a thing or two about close shaves...
In the action sports world, few athletes have their fingers in as many pies as the energetic ball of fuzz that is Mike Escamilla. And like Mick and Keef, he can’t get no satisfaction. Chris Moran investigates…
By 1996 Californian-raised Mike Escamilla had already nabbed an X-Games gold medal and the nickname “Rooftop” (bestowed not through any dangerous antic, but by fellow BMX pro Keith Treanor who threatened to “duct tape him to car roof” if he didn’t shut up).
But true fame came only with an attempted backflip on a home made, makeshift loop ended in disaster. The horrific slam was a ludicrously close shave (a harbinger of what would come for the bearded BMXer) with Mike nearly breaking his back when he separated from his bike then reconnected with it on the landing. For Escamilla however, it was the launch of his career.
See the clip here.
Suddenly the world was aware of him. And here was a man who would have a go at anything, who would happily set himself on fire for the public’s entertainment, who was a true daredevil, and who took BMX to the next level by going bigger, more upside down, and with more jazz hands than all the other riders put together.
Not one to stay within the ‘core’ BMX community, he was the first rider to see the value in getting a skate show sponsor on board (Etnies rewarded him with three pro models with the brand), he single-handedly relaunched the crank company Redline, and helped Tony Hawk launch a BMX bike brand to the mass market under the Huck Jam Bikes label.
"We had an opportunity to get kids started on authentic BMX bikes,” said Tony Hawk in a recent interview, “and the first person I called was Mike.” Two world records later (biggest backflip on a bike, longest 360 on a bike), some video game endorsements (Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX 1 and 2 and Sean Palmer’s Pro Snowboarder) and Mike was the most famous - and most well-groomed - face in BMX.
But BMX seemed too small a pool for Mike to dominate. So he become a stuntman (winning him a nomination for a “Taurus Award” for hardest hit in from the Hollywood movie Stick It). He started diving with sharks, became an actor with the shaven-headed Vin Diesel in xXx, and became a regular on the reality TV show La Ink. And then he started skydive filming.
“When people in BMX can't find Escamilla, it's often because they're not looking up,” quipped ESPN in a recent interview.
In 2009, he was a stuntman and one of the main characters in the comedy film Paul Blart Mallcop, and being a one man wonder, Tony Hawk and Will Ferrell made him a staple of their joint venture shredordie.com.
All the while of course, Escamilla has been diligently cultivating his look. So much effort goes into maintaining his famed beard that he asked his blog and twitter followers for advice.
“Been dabbling with some new looks lately,” he recently wrote. “Not sure which I should run with but really kinda feeling them all. I really think all three could bring really promising adventures and opportunities!”
So has he changed it? Well so far, he’s rocking the short stubble look that he claims makes him “a rugged dude”, but we think makes him a dead ringer for the Barcelona and Spain midfielder Cesc Fàbregas. Not that they've ever been seen together at the same time, which demands the question: maybe his CV is even bigger than we first thought?