Michael Galloway might be a new name for some readers, but we hope to change that. Michael is a veteran blader hailing from Houston Texas who has recently returned to the blading community after spending some unfortunate time away in incarceration. Now as a free man, Michael has come back into blading full force with a heart filled with inspiration and more determination than can be easily measured. When we asked some of his crew of friends down in Houston their thoughts of him, they all came back with very similar answers and Scott Wells put it perfectly by stating.

“Mike is one of the hardest working and most disciplined bladers in the Houston scene, and it reflects in his skating. Whether it’s getting the whole session amped up or just himself, Mike always offers positive energy. Ever since he returned to the Houston rollerblading community, Mike has been an inspiration and one of my favorite people. Whenever he finds an obstacle that he wants to conquer, there isn’t much that can stop him. That goes for on and off the blades.”

Scott Wells

For Mike’s One Minute One Spot location, Mike picked one of Houston’s most famous skate spots, a fat stair rail located in Tranquility Park, in the heart of the downtown metroplex. The rail is deceiving in its appearance as it looks mellow and not too intimidating, but I can attest to its difficulty and being much more challenging than it lets on. So peep Michael’s One Minute One Spot profile and get to know this Houston amateur with one of the most uplifting redemption stories around.

KL: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Michael. To start with, can you introduce yourself and tell us where you are from and about your roots in skating, and how you got started initially?

MG: My name is Michael Galloway, and I am from Houston, Texas. I am 33 years old with 6 wonderful children and a beautiful wife. I was introduced to rollerblading with a pair of Fisher Price toy skates back in 1994 by my grandfather. I instantly fell in love with them. Fast forward a of couple years when I was seven years old in 1997, I watched the movie “Airborne” along with “Brink” the following year” which gave birth to my fascination and passion to become a true soul skater. I didn’t have a pair of aggressive skates at the time and a childhood friend of mine challenged me to a game of “S.K.A.T.E” to identify who was the greater soul skater out of the two of us.

We went to the local high school where they had metal benches, ledges, and high curbs. It was a heated battle that attracted the rest of the neighborhood kids. We both had one letter left and it was my turn; I had expended all the airs, spins, and grabs in my arsenal, so I attempted my first grind ever on a metal bench without aggressive skates. I remember the bench being tall, but I sent it regardless and I hit a soul grind that slid about 6 inches.

My friend was awestruck and just took the letter 😂. It was at that moment I fully believed I was meant to be a soul skater. Over the next 5 years, I would start solely aggressive skating and grew up skating with the old Houston Wrekshop Skate Crew alongside some of the OG’s Matt Rankin, Ryan Lakey, and Pookie just to name a few. The streets of Houston were our playground among the older skateparks like Dex Skatepark, Sun City Skatepark, and Vans Skatepark.

KL: You have lived quite a tumultuous life; can you tell us what happened from when you were younger and skating consistently and what led you down a bad path that unfortunately landed you in jail for some time?

MG: I was raised by my grandparents most of my life because both of my parents were in and out of prison, as well as being active drug addicts. I always felt like the oddball around my peers and so I found peace when I would put on my blades; being with my fellow bladers made me feel like I was around a true and authentic family away from home. I harnessed my problems and my emotions into perfecting my skating. However, deep down I wanted the acceptance of my parents, so I ended up following in their footsteps at a very young age. I would constantly rebel and act out. This behavior continued to progress until I committed my first felony at the age of 12 when I sold weed to a kid in school and was taken to the juvenile detention center and for the following 11 months, I remained in custody. But all that did was enhance my criminal-minded mentality 10x and my dreams of being a soul skater were buried.

I was in and out of handcuffs, robbing, stealing, using drugs, selling drugs, gang-related and destructive. I felt like a general in the Devil’s army sometimes. The worst part about it was I took pride and ownership of my lifestyle. I hurt a lot of people including my own family. All of that came to a head when I was 21. I had burned every bridge in my life, a heavy drug addict and was getting a divorce with a 2-year-old son and another child on the way. I had lost everything and wanted to blame everyone else for how my life turned out except me. And on January 28, 2011, while on the way to commit another crime; I accidentally killed one of my best friends while attempting to disarm a handgun.

I was charged with criminal negligence homicide and sentenced to serve 8 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice where I did day for day of my sentence. I always say that two people died on that day: my friend and the old me. My friend is no longer here, he doesn’t get to go to college, have a career, follow his dreams, or have a family. It is a pain and guilt I carry with me every day of my life, which is why I vowed to honor my friend’s life by how I live out the rest of mine. I live for two people now; I live for me and my friend. I must be twice the husband, twice the father, twice the son, and twice the man now. I vowed to make a difference in a world I used to tear down as a youth.

KL: Being incarcerated gives you tons of free time to self-reflect and can teach you a lot about yourself and what direction you want to go moving forward. What were some lessons that you learned during that time that might help to maybe steer someone away from making similar mistakes that you did when you were younger?

MG: You are right! Doing time gives you an unlimited amount of time to work on yourself and discover who you truly are. During my incarceration, I learned the priceless value of life and how short it is. I realized just how incorrect my thinking was and addressed my past mistakes and experiences and took ownership of them. I used any and every opportunity to upgrade myself, physically, spiritually, and mentally. I took many self-help classes, got my GED, and vocational courses, and even obtained my Associate degree. In addition, I graduated from the Prison Entrepreneurship Program where they taught me what it means to be a servant leader, to be an authentic man, to build and present a business plan, personal finance, and various leadership skills to prepare for success in life outside of prison.

KL: You are extremely active and are constantly pushing yourself physically and also those around you. How did your passion lead you into the world of personal training and also starting your own business, X-Cons Fitness?

MG: Believe it or not, I started my business inside the prison walls accepting ramen soups and instant coffee as payments. I knew I couldn’t skate in prison, so I had to do the next best thing: workout. Every day I would work out in prison, and I would go hard as a mother trucker! I used the same principles I learned in skating as a child and applied it to every part of my life: perseverance, resilience, and consistency. I worked out multiple times a day because it was necessary for survival in prison, and I went from 105 pounds up to 155 solid. I studied the art of exercise science and kinesiology for my whole prison sentence.

In addition, in every prison I went to, other inmates would gravitate to me and want to work out with me. In my last prison unit, I was training over 30 people in the Rec yard every evening and the prison administrators took notice of it. I trained prison guards, employees, and inmates. Until one day the warden of the prison and the principal of the education building approached me and asked if I could make a health and wellness program that would be offered to the entire prison. Fast forward 3 months, I trained up to 150 inmates a day helping them achieve their fitness goals thus my business X-cons Fitness was born. My ultimate mission was to show people that you don’t have to be remembered for your mistakes and your past; rather, you can be remembered for your redemption and how you overcame your past.

The world said I would always have an X on my back, and I would never be successful, so I told myself I will make a difference in this world and be successful with the X on my back.

KL: You are an extremely motivated and inspirational individual, who is always looking to help those around you. How do you feel that the act of skating and our community could help guide those that may be going through difficulties in their own life?

MG: I always tell people that “Your life and experiences will be someone else’s survival guide one day.” This is a prime reason why I believe in giving my testimony when an opportunity presents itself. You never know what another person is going through and speaking to them could be the determining factor of whether a person makes a negative or positive decision in their life. Now when it came to getting back into skating a year and a half ago, it stemmed from a conversation I had with my mentor and good friend. We were talking one day, and he said, “Mikey what did you want to be when you grew up?” and my response was of course to be a soul skater. He then prodded me about what stopped me from following my dream, so I responded with all the issues I had in my upbringing and my troubled youth. Now what my mentor said next, was what inspired me to pick up blading again; he said to me “What is stopping you now?” And I said, “I don’t know, nothing I guess!”. He further went on to ask me the critical question when he said “Mikey, what would the 13-year-old self that had such a passion and drives to be this soul skater say to you right now?” and all I could respond with is that “my 13-year-old self would be very disappointed in me for letting go and giving up on my dreams.” That question hit me so hard in the gut that when I was at home that night, I went and bought a pair of skates. A week later, I put on my blades, and I felt free and 13 again, although that concrete wasn’t as forgiving as I remember it lol. What was more profound is that later that day I get a message from my mother saying, “How does it feel to have your wings back?”

In effect, I believe that skating has so much to offer not only the skate community but the world. Skating is a way of life, a way to better yourself, a way to socialize, and a way to address your stresses positively. I use skating to escape the everyday clutter and monotony of my life; I also use it as a form of expression. It never ceases to amaze me that the more hectic and stressful my life is; the more perfect my skating is. There are so many things that are out of our control, but what I can control is my ability to skate. If I would’ve kept skating as a kid and not gotten involved with gangs, drugs and street life; I may have turned out a lot differently. I gave up on my dreams at a young age and so if I can impart to all the youth to not give up on their dreams and stick it through; they will live a fulfilling life. And to those that picked back up skating again like myself I want to tell y’all; don’t let someone else that gave up on their dreams talk you out of following yours.

KL: You come from Houston Texas, which has a vast history of heavy-hitting bladers. Can you tell us a little about the current Houston Texas skate scene and what makes your community down there unique?

MG: Houston will always be my home and where my heart is. The blading community is nowhere near what it used to be back in the late 90s and early 2000s; however, more and more people are returning to blading and more youth are picking up blading in Houston. It is the heavy-hitting bladers of our history that inspired me as a kid, and they will always be the foundation of our community. However, what makes the Houston blading community so special is that all of us come from different backgrounds and live all different types of lives, but when we all come together it is nothing but love, camaraderie, and support. We have each other’s backs, and our bonds go deeper than just blading together; we do life together; the Houston blading community is family through and through. We have bladers of all ages and it is the younger generations of bladers that inspire me the most because they have that fire within them about rollerblading that can only continue to grow.

KL: Thanks for taking the time to answer all our questions! Your story is incredibly inspiring and we are very appreciative that you could share it with our readers. Did you want to give any thanks to any of your friends & family for their support?

MG: It is an honor to have been interviewed by y’all because we must keep the sport alive and share our love for the sport with the rest of the world in a major way and y’all have been holding it down for the longest! I Thank God for saving me and giving me my wonderful wife, kids, and my second chance at life! I thank Triple Sea Shred Wear (Mathias Isassi) for seeing the potential in me as a blader and bringing me on the skate team to represent the Houston chapter, I pray I represent the team proudly.

I would like to give a mad shout out of respect to all the Houston Blading Community especially my everyday crew Marts Hart, James P., and Allen G. The passion y’all have for blading keeps me going even on my worst days. Also, a big shout out to all the Houston Blading OG’s that have kept the fire going since the beginning: Scott Wells, William Kennedy, Bryan Panganiban, Jeremy Kauffman, Abraham Henry, Gabriel Lewis, and Luke Whitney. They give me so much motivation and push me to never give up. But I want to give the biggest shout-out to the Wrekshop Skate crew and the brothers that are no longer with us Keith Brown and Julian Issac that truly left a legacy behind. Nothing but love y’all!

Michael Galloway and the Houston Texas crew at Southside Skatepark