Shaun White

Shaun White

Shaun Roger White was born in San Diego, Calif., to Roger and Kathy White. The future Olympian had two open-heart operations before he turned one due to a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. White had one sister, Kari, and a brother, Jesse, who inspired him to start snowboarding at the age of six. When White turned pro at the age of 10, his brother began working as his manager. The young athlete frequented Okemo Mountain in Ludlow, VT and Bear Mountain in Southern California for his early snowboarding training. During his formative years, White also took up skateboarding. He met professional skateboarder Tony Hawk - considered a legend in the world of extreme sports - who mentored him until White turned pro at 17. In 2003, White became the first athlete to compete in both the Summer X Games and the Winter X Games in two different sports. More impressively, he won gold at both events and continued to dominate the X Games throughout his career. His fiery red hair and gravity-defying tricks earned him the nickname "the Flying Tomato," and soon enough, White became the poster boy for action sports.At the 2006 Olympic Winter Games held in Turin, Italy, White was the favorite to win gold in the snowboard halfpipe competition. A collective gasp from spectators was heard after he scored a low 37.7 points out of 50 during the qualifying round, which almost knocked him out of medal contention. White turned out a better performance during the second round and made it to the finals. Scoring a 46.8 at the finals, White beat out fellow American Danny Kass to win his first Olympic gold medal. Expectations were high when White returned to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. It was widely speculated by snowboarding experts and fans that White had new tricks planned for the halfpipe event. Millions watched as White scored 46.8 points in his first run, which secured his gold medal even without a second run. In true athletic spirit, White performed a second run anyway and debuted a breathtaking stunt called a Double McTwist 1260, earning an even higher score of 48.4 points. White made Olympic history as the first athlete to win back-to-back gold medals in the snowboard halfpipe. Endorsements for the red-haired sportsman poured in, including lucrative contracts with Burton Snowboards, Target Corporation, and Hewlett-Packard. White also starred in several video game titles such as "Shaun White Snowboarding" (2008) and "Shaun White Skateboarding" (2010). In 2011, White showcased his comedic acting skills with a cameo in the feature film "Friends with Benefits" opposite Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis.