New documentary chronicles blind skateboarder's return

CATEGORIES: Justin BishopSk8spt
PUBLISHED: January 21, 2022

Thirty-five-year-old pro-skateboarder Justin Bishop was only 8 years old when doctors diagnosed him with a rare degenerative eye disease known as retinitis pigmentosa and told him it would eventually cause him to go blind. 

Now, Bishop’s skateboarding career and gradual loss of his eyesight is the subject of Leo Pfeifer’s documentary, “One Day You’ll Go Blind,” released through The New Yorker. 

Only a child at the time of his diagnosis, Bishop didn’t let the revelation impede him. 

“My childhood was nonstop running, playing, baseball, hockey,” said Bishop. “Nonstop movement.” 

Bishop began to skateboard at the age of 10 after witnessing a neighbor execute an ollie. He came in first place in the first skateboarding competition he entered, eventually becoming sponsored and competing competitively. 

However, after getting into a car accident at the age of 19, he was declared legally blind and was forced to give up driving and quit his job.

“I knew the timeline was getting shorter,” said Bishop. “It was just a mad dash to max out your talent before you lose your sight.” 

Bishop tearfully described his eyesight regressing to the point he could only make out blurs and fell into a depression, even quitting skateboarding for close to four years. 

Then, one day, a friend asked him, “Do you think you could still drop in?” Bishop was hesitant but he did it, successfully dropping in before, as even seasoned skateboarders do, he fell. 

“I’m just laughing and smiling and crying because all the emotions just hit me. I missed falling,” said Bishop. 

Bishop began to skateboard again, this time using his cane, and gradually getting back into the sport he loved. He now skateboards competitively again, sponsored by Zappos. 

“My love for skateboarding is everything,” said Bishop. “It’s saved my life so many times.”