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Lil Wayne's people told Malto that he'd brought too many people. His friends would have to wait in the lobby while Lil Wayne got a feel for the room.
"It was super, super awkward for the first hour," Malto says. "I guess Lil Wayne's self-conscious about it. So there's three people in the whole park, skating around. He's kind of wobbly, rolling around, looking at things for 45 minutes, and no one's saying a word."
Lil Wayne found his legs, and the others were allowed in.
"It was pretty awesome for an hour and a half," Malto says. "It's funny getting cheers from Lil Wayne or cheering Lil Wayne on. It's funny watching someone skate with that much diamonds in his mouth. His diamonds were insane."
Lil Wayne cameos in an upcoming Malto video. As Malto flies down a rail, the camera cuts to Weezy. "My man!" he shouts.
"When am I ever going to have to deal with something like that again?" Malto says. "I didn't think I was going to have to deal with it before. It was cool."
It's another hot August afternoon as Malto tells the story. Malto and Lopez are skating. They pop off the concrete and grind against rails and ledges. Sweat soaks Malto's red-and-yellow Escapist T-shirt, but he makes every gravity-bending move look effortless.
The August 28 championship is days away. He's still an alternate and says he's looking forward to seeing his friends skate, but his voice gives away his disappointment.
After their practice, Malto and Lopez hit Grand Slam Liquors at Sixth Street and Grand. Malto grabs a bottle of Gatorade from the cooler, and his iPhone rings. He takes the call.
"Fuck, yeah!" he screams.
Tommy Sandoval has rolled his ankle and is out of the Street League Championships. Malto is in.
"It sucks that he's out because I'm friends with him," Malto says. "But at the same time, I want to skate. And you get paid to show up."
For one day of skating, he'll collect $10,000. The championship winner will pick up the biggest purse ever awarded in a skateboarding competition: $200,000.
"I'm so hyped," he says. "I wanted it so bad. I wanted to support my friends. I love my friends. But I also want to skate with my friends. Everybody wants to do what they love to do."
Nyjah Huston has owned the 2011 Street League tour. The 16-year-old with long, ropelike dreadlocks has won all three tour stops — and $150,000 in prize money for each. He's the defending champion — he won the 2010 tour and raked in $800,000 in total contest earnings.
If beating the champ requires a killer instinct, Malto may not be the one to do it.
"I'm really happy for him," Malto says of Huston. "Everyone's happy for him. He's definitely really good at skating those contests. He's consistent, and the contest is based off of consistency, so it's been really good for him."
Hurricane Irene, bearing down on the Northeast, has nearly forced organizers to cancel the event, at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Instead, they rush to move it up a day. The hurricane hasn't kept fans away, though. Malto's mother and girlfriend are in the stands the afternoon of Saturday, August 27. So is Askew.