June 25, 2017

Remembering CJ Tambornino

UPDATE: According to CJ's family, a memorial celebration for CJ is being held July 6 from 2 to 5:30 p.m. at Familia HQ, 835 E. Hennepin Ave. in Minneapolis. There won't be skating but it is a chance to celebrate CJ's life.


CJ Tambornino was an outsize personality and an audacious skater. From the huge red beard he grew once he was able to quit his job at McCormick and Schmick’s and focus on skating full time, to his trick selection — nobody knows for sure what it was, but wasn’t it a nollie 360 bigger spin triple flip? — the dude stood out based on style and skill.

He was a skate rat. Back when he was 12 or 13, it happened more than once, he’d be traversing the 26 blocks of East Lake Street from his house to get to the old 3rd Lair and get jumped. He was never all that phased, he’d dust himself off and skate.

I was 18 or 19 and working at the Lair. He was endearingly annoying, the prototypical shop-lurking kid you had a hunch would end up ripping, the kid who’d always challenge the guy working the counter to a game of SKATE, who had a chance of winning.

An image from that era to which I always return is him skating with an above-the-elbow cast, yellow Supernatural shirt and weird wicker hat, flicking nollie bigspin flips over the hip — style and skill.

It was either Jamiel Nowparvar or Mike Guy, two guys who know a thing or two about positivity, who said CJ put the “G” in genuine. He was humble, even though a part of what made his skating so electrifying was a certain cockiness on board —and no humble man thinks he can do the shit CJ did on a regular basis.

CJ is nothing short of a legend in Minneapolis skateboarding — one of the few who can legitimately claim to be from the city —and an argument could be made a plaque should be placed at The Marbles to memorialize the three-trick wonders he put together there. Or else the old Science Museum triple-set should just be knocked down, since CJ already laid waste to it, anyway.

CJ was 30 years old when he died this week. His death is marked by deep sadness and tinged by anger. Skateboarding and all his friends are better off for having him.


A post shared by danrusin (@danrusin) on

The Front Benches works, too.


Anonymous said...

CJ was a friend to everyone. He was the best. Skateboarding filled his heart and he pushed many kids to "just keep skating". My son was lucky enough to have CJ push him. CJ would tell my son, you need anything call me and keep skating. Our family grieves today. Thoughts and prayers to his family

MikeLovePotna said...


Unknown said...

RIP, such a good skater and dude in general. Going to be missed here in MN. -CB

Murkin Max said...

Tough, tough news.

CJ has been a role model ever since I was a young kid skating at Brackett after school, and the positive examples he set continue on. Here's a few that come to mind:

1. One kid out of a group of three--two of which were CJ's size and a lot bigger than me--asked to try my skateboard. After handing it to this kid, he told me it was his skateboard now. I froze up, not trying to get jumped in a 3 on 1. CJ calmly took the skateboard back from the kid, gave it back to me, and instructed me what to do the next time.

2. CJ used to leave out gear that he didn't need anymore at the park. I remember showing up one time and there were probably 10-15 pairs of Nikes and some shirts lined up.

3. After meeting him the first time and asking him how to hardflip, he showed me how it was done and told me to "never quit skateboarding." Coming from him, that was huge.

His enthusiasm for skateboarding was contagious, and I carry it with me to this day.

RIP big homie!

Cole Lambert said...

CJ was the first dude nice enough to take me out street skating when I moved up here a few years back.
Seriously one of the nicest dudes to meet in person.

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