Adams was known as a founding member of the Zephyr Skate Team, who operated in the Dogtown neighborhood of Los Angeles, a hotspot of empty pools that skateboarders took to in the 1970s. Adams struggled with run-ins with the law and substance abuse throughout his life, but had reportedly been clean for years when he passed away on Thursday.
But at the height of his fame in the early 1980s, Adams was convicted of felony assault, launching a string of prison stints over the next 24 years.
The member of the Skateboarding Hall of Fame, who had proudly been clean and sober for the past several years, blamed his troubles in part on the sport's early years, when seemingly any outrageous behavior was tolerated.
"We were wild and acting crazy and not being very positive role models," he told The New York Times shortly after being released from prison for the last time in 2008.
Adams was married with two children. He was on a surfing vacation with his wife and friends when he died, his manager reported on Friday.
Stacy Peralta, a filmmaker and former skateboarder who made a documentary in 2001 that chronicled the rise of the Z-Boys, told the AP, "He was like the original viral spore that created skateboarding. He was it."
[Image via AP]