Whatever Happened to Josh Heino?

A story of Unfinished Business

8 Jan 2017

Josh Heino Mug By Rick Adam

Josh Heino, London UK; circa 2001. Photo by Ricky Adam

By Paul Robinson | First published in DIG issue 99.5 - Summer 2016

It’s somewhere between lunch and early afternoon and I am staring at a text message from Jeff Z. The text includes a cell phone number for Josh Heino with a note saying “not even sure if it’s still his number”. I was tasked with tracking down the elusive Heino for a one-on-one interview, with a view to getting his honest opinion on his contribution to BMX. I am conscious of the way I write my introductory text to Josh, trying to sound as human as humanly possible inside the amount of characters allowed. One thing text messaging and emailing have done to us over the years is made us less human, they’ve caused unnecessary hurt, confusion and arguments because there is no way to read emotion in words. Sometimes you just have to pick up the phone

An hour or so later, Heino replies. He’s thankful that I reached out to him and he’s down to talk on the phone. I felt like a Heino-sized weight had lifted from my shoulders and I was excited to talk and find out more about this era defining street rider who, in my eyes, was one of the most exciting things to happen to BMX in the 1990s and 2000s. Heino personified the rock star image of a BMX pro, he was arrogant, he was temperamental and he was the type of rider that only needed to do one big thing because that big thing would stand out over everything else. He was the big hitter basically, the air strike or the assassin, but he was troubled.

I told Josh I would call him that weekend. I really wanted to be able to sit down with a beer and just have a good, natural conversation that covered everything. That weekend, I called him up as promised and the first thing Josh said was that he had forgotten about our arranged call and that it was weird, since he doesn’t usually forgot about things as big as this. This made me think that there was going to be more to this conversation than just a chat about BMX. It felt like he wanted to explain everything the way it should be told. Within minutes we were discussing the end of his BMX career and I could sense bitterness about how it all went down. It’s public knowledge that BMX gave up on Josh at a time when Josh was not ready to give up on BMX. Over the course of our phone call I began to understand the struggle and regret that Heino has endured over a 10-year hiatus from the pro spotlight.  

Josh currently lives in New Hampshire with his family, who he has provided for since the BMX paychecks stopped coming. He has followed in his father’s footsteps and now specializes in antique restoration and re-purposing of old English barns, a totally different way of life to the one he had on the west coast many years ago.  

When I ask Josh if he has regrets about the way his career ended, he is pretty open and honest, blunt in his answers but extensive enough to give an insight into a man who didn’t quite do everything he had planned on doing.  “I have no fairy tale ending,” he says. Josh had a lot more to give, and that energy is still inside him today, he still rides but not in the same way he used to because he can’t risk any harm to himself.  “I have to work, so I can’t hurt myself, its not like it was 10 years ago”. I ask him if he still feels like going out on his bike and scaring himself and he tells me that he has turned around and walked away on seeing a big set up, or thrown his bike in the back of his van at a skate park because he knew that urge was in him but he couldn’t act upon it. I’ve heard this before from Jay Miron, times when he would just have to leave a riding session for fear of hurting himself.  That goes to show the type of rider Josh Heino was, a do-or-die rider, one who, in my opinion, fits the mold of a pro in every way. 

B2001 Heino Invert Ricky Adam

Invert at Bike 2001, Birmingham UK. Photo by Ricky Adam.

Josh confesses he has grown up a lot; he has a family now and has matured over the last ten years. He says that he used to have some kind of swagger power about him, but that it was the pro lifestyle that gave him that. “I wish I could stop now and look at myself back then, I was just a kid who didn’t care, and I would land in a different country and just ride and not care about anything”. Josh has never been a social type of guy, and he is quite frank about that. “This phone call is out of the blue for me, I don’t talk to people, I don’t care for human beings, I’m not a dick but there’s so many assholes out there.” You can’t fault a man for telling it how it is.

One thing he took for granted back then was time. “Back then I took things for granted for sure. I just want more time, I want the days to be longer, there’s not enough time, I have ideas and I want to pursue them but there’s just not enough time”. Josh was involved in BMX product design many years ago but he feels he missed that boat; time passed and before he knew it, it was gone. “For me to be 100% content, I need to be in the BMX industry, as a designer, or an owner… I don’t have what it takes to make those dreams happen anymore, when I get home it’s family time, I have to give everything to my family and my kids, that’s what I do”. I don’t think Josh feels that his family or working life are getting in the way of what he wants to do, I just get the feeling he would make a deal with the devil to stretch time in order to satisfy his craving for BMX. He is a BMX rider to the very core, he still follows BMX, he still rides and that’s where his heart is.

“I never got burnt out on BMX, I got burnt out on dealing with injuries and burnt out on the BMX industry, its pretty cutthroat and there’s not a lot of money to go around. There’s always drama in BMX, it’s just the way it is. I dealt with a lot of it, it’s one of those things where I think back about how I got burnt, I saw shoe companies who dropped their BMX team, then to re-build a BMX team later, people being screwed out of contracts etc. In the long run its not going to matter, a lot of people don’t see it or think about it, but its hard not to pay attention.” His words are based on his experiences and he ends by stating “It’s a cruel world, but it’s the real world”. He’s been there, he can see it clearly now.

Heino Mug Adj By Rob Dolecki

Josh Heino, circa 2005. Photo by Rob Dolecki

I ask him if he finally felt free after removing the shackles of riding for brands and the pressures of producing content to make a living. “Not at all”, he explains, “It was a complete struggle, if I am honest, the years after were some of the hardest in my life. I had no Plan B, I had no wealthy family that could support me.” He expands on how he really felt at that time. “I was proud, I was pissed off and I regret that, but that’s how I was.” At around that time, Heino’s girlfriend became pregnant with their first child and that brought a host of new responsibilities. So he made the decision to move to the east coast and leave everything behind.

 “I was scared to death, it didn’t get any easier for a long time, starting a new life was hard, moving back to the east, life changes, your friends change, its just complicated”. I admire how open Josh is about everything, most riders are too afraid to talk candidly about such key moments in their life, especially as BMX is seen by most as a constructive sport and essentially a hobby. People don’t always see how hard it is to make a living from BMX.  I ask him more about how it feels now, expecting things to have settled down somewhat. “Honestly, its still kind of hard and it never got any easier. I always think about BMX, even now. It’s pretty depressing actually, I don’t have any candy coated pretty ending, shit happens”. All respect to Josh, this is someone who had a successful career in BMX and is not at all afraid to tell it how it is. Heino’s life was BMX, and when that was cut short it was only ever going to have adverse effects. “I don’t have BMX in my life anymore and I need to fill that void, I rebuild antique farms from the 18th century but its work, its my living, it just doesn’t quite do what BMX did. I am always looking for that replacement to BMX, but its not out there. It’s a constant battle to find that replacement.”

The line goes dead and I freeze. We’re just getting into a very deep explanation of events and the fucking phone goes dead! But now it’s back on and Josh starts to talk about his buddy Dave Mirra (R.I.P.). He says he can identify with the emotional struggles that Dave went through. “It’s not like you put up a wall,” he says, “but you are, like, this figure and its hard to lose it, its harder to get back to that point where you are content.” 

I don’t think many riders will ever be able to fill the void that BMX leaves. It’s such an engrossing, captivating sport and its confines stretch so far, the possibilities to travel, create content, be adored and have a following. It’s all too much to give up with no emotional change. The conversation swings to family. As a family man myself I am interested in how having a family has helped with this mourning for a different life.  “There is so much meaning in being a father” he explains, “everything I do now is for my kids, any time I have after work I just invest it into them and for me that is just natural, it’s what we as humans do”. 

Josh is a straight talking, authentic guy. He tells it how it is and doesn’t wrap it up in glitter. That’s why I didn’t wrap this interview up in glitter, I told it straight from the horse’s mouth. Josh isn’t alone either, many riders have struggled to cope with life on the other side and many haven’t had the fortune to end up on top or even close to it. For what’s it worth though, Josh has a respectable and creative job, he works hard for his family and even when the doors seemed to be closing he managed to open new ones. He seems to have come to terms with the ending of his BMX pro career, but coming to terms with the past and feeling content are two entirely different things. It’s clear Josh may never be content and that’s something he will have to live with. Somehow though I feel he has the character of a person who can do just that. - PR

“I never got burnt out on BMX, I got burnt out on dealing with injuries and burnt out on the BMX industry, its pretty cutthroat and there’s not a lot of money to go around. “ - Josh Heino


Brian Kachinsky - Junk In The Trunk

Livin' the Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared"...


Setups: Jason Phelan

A Holy Setup

Related Content

Wtp Frame Battleship Kho1 Ht

BMX Frames - Then & Now

Discussing the evolution of the BMX frame with WETHEPEOPLE

29 Sep 2016
Our Problem

Our Problem With Authority

Is our problem with authority more deep-rooted than we think.

11 Dec 2016

Print Matters - Black And Blue

More Northern DIY

16 Dec 2016

30 Signs That You Were A Mid-School BMXer

If you don't understand then you just weren't there

4 Dec 2016
Bmxwin Test

11 Times BMX Won

It's not all doom and gloom.

25 Dec 2016
Ralph sinisi bmx crop BC

Re Print: First Hand Account

That Time Animal's Ralph Sinisi Broke His Femur Filming for Nowhere Fast...

10 Sep 2020
20 Things Slider Dig Final

20 things every Pro BMX rider needs to do

The check list of all check lists

20 Nov 2016
Dig Celebrations New

The DIG Guide To BMX Celebrations

Let's at least make celebrating great again!

13 Nov 2016

Latest Content

J S c Q Rz Fvc Ehqdefault
Play Button


Celebrating Eddie's life in the BX

20 Jun 2024
Y Pof Hc1g Pwhqdefault
Play Button


"Get to de choppa!"

19 Jun 2024
6xvq77np Nbshqdefault
Play Button


An Italian Full-Length Video

19 Jun 2024
5bz D Gg Kk XM8hqdefault
Play Button


Japanese jammin'

19 Jun 2024
OK7 NYH Nnrmkhqdefault
Play Button

Kanode Knows - Antonio Chavez

Making Money in BMX, Getting on Fiend, and a BMX Plus Cover at 12 years old

19 Jun 2024
C Oq X7vb RP 8hqdefault
Play Button

Volume Bikes - Jason Watts Smoko Bars

"Take a Smoko and go ride"

19 Jun 2024
Dqanp Dk P Ej Mhqdefault
Play Button



18 Jun 2024
3 EI Gn Dvey7 Yhqdefault
Play Button
Hzz RZWLE6 Uhqdefault
Play Button
M Bo FPVN2i9 Qhqdefault
Play Button

Source BMX - Brett Silva - Bike Check

A fist and a half of seatpost

14 Jun 2024
N7 XG Hm9ls Ahqdefault
Play Button


2 Weeks in Cali

13 Jun 2024
Xn Eteozzp U Uhqdefault
Play Button

Profile - Doctors without Boredom –Spoke & Word Ep. 4

Perfect Tabes, Emergency Medicine, and Dr. Luis Pinzon

13 Jun 2024

DIG Partner stores

More Dig This

X Games California 2023 Kevin 2

X Games Ventura 2024: BMX Preview

Who, what, where and when

15 May 2024
Hannah roberts dsc00340

X Games Debuts Women’s BMX Park at Ventura 2024

This year, X Games is adding Women’s BMX Park to the schedule, and Hannah Roberts is leading the charge.

10 May 2024
S1057107 2


5 Jams - 5 Countries

25 Apr 2024
Nick wave


A true renaissance man in every sense of the word

24 Apr 2024


Did someone say titanium?!

13 Apr 2024
435840693 1414960675891844 3313287078063579831 n


An all new BMX specific shoe from Vans

10 Apr 2024
Thee void leader
Cinema apparel 24 sring


Designed in Cologne. Made in Kyoto.

31 Jan 2024

DIG BOOK #2023


8 Jan 2024
Wheel mill winter welcome 24 WIDE

EVENT NEWS: The Wheel Mill - Winter Welcome Jam 2024

Shelter from the storm.

19 Dec 2023
TJP WTP 22 6


"I'm not saying the 22" will become the new standard, but it might help some riders stay on a BMX, rather than switching to MTB."

18 Dec 2023