11 months ago

Beach Jan 2018

his nose as he went

his nose as he went under. He was a boisterous kid, even bold, curious about the world, unafraid to go beyond his own limits and especially those others set for him. It was a trait that kept growing all his life. “He was a lot of work,” said Michael Greenberg. “What I realized later was why — a lot of it was because he was so creative, and determined. It took me a while to understand that he wanted to do things that a young boy his age just didn't do. He wanted to travel, he wanted to work.” Because Harrison grew up in affluence didn’t mean he was immune to the difficulties that beset childhood. He was chubby when he was young; as a grade schooler at Robinson Elementary, he was bullied for it. Rather than cower, however, the experience seemed to make him even more resolute, and it may have drawn him closer to the ocean — on the water, all creatures are equally small relative to the immensity of the Pacific. His father recalls his early penchant for voyaging. The family visited Catalina Island perhaps a dozen times a year, sometimes for a day, a weekend, or a few weeks at at time. They favored the Isthmus, which is simple and rustic, with a single hotel and restaurant, rather than the more touristy Avalon. By the time he was a teenager, Harrison would take the family fishing boat out alone. “He was an avid fisherman,” Michael Greenberg said. “This kid would fish for hours. We have a Grady White. he'd take it out and I wouldn't see him for nine hours. He'd go on the backside of the island. And I was a little worried because they didn't get reception; the radio on the boats, the antennas -- there's got to be line of sight.” By this time he’d learned to trust his son, who each year seemed to grow more defined, physically and otherwise. “He really started to understand who he was and have confidence,” Greenberg said. “He figured out who he was supposed to be.” He’d always taken an interest in the family business. He’d grown up Skechers, as had all the kids; his brother, Chase, famously had his diapers changed by his mother on the boardroom table at the New York Stock Exchange the morning Skechers went public. “I remember saying, ‘You can’t, we don’t have time,’ and she said, ‘I am changing him,’” Michael Greenberg said. “There is no telling a mother. She puts him on this iconic, world leaders’ conference table that is longer than my office; many dignitaries have sat around this. We are in this grand room and she plops him on that table. And the head of the exchange, [Richard] Grasso, he's looking and he says, ‘Well, that's never happened.’” When Harrison was four, his father, playing the role of “shoe-ologist” by doing a little market research on his child, asked him if he liked the Skechers he was wearing. “Yes, Daddy, I like them,” the boy said. “Do you like Nike or Adidas?” his father asked. “What is that?” Harrison replied. He had no idea other shoes existed. Nearly every trip the family took they’d stop at at least one Skechers store to check things out, and thus by means of osmosis the family business was being transferred to the next generation. As Harrison grew older, he formed strong opinions on the Skechers line — he’d tell his dad what was cool, what wasn’t, and what was missing. “The kids are all very opinionated,” Greenberg said. “They are not shy, and they are critics. Children are their parents’ biggest critics. You know, we are not cool. They forget I was 19 and I know all the shit you are doing. Maybe I invented some of the shit you are doing.” Harrison had become a magnetic personality as he grew into a young man. He’d always been as comfortable speaking with adults as with kids; his eclectic circle of friends included the entrepreneur Rob Gough, a 32-year-old cancer survivor who’d launched a half dozen successful businesses, including and the DOPE apparel line. “He was incredible,” Gough said. “He was a curious soul who loved to learn. To be honest, he would have been a monster in the business world. You could put him anywhere and he would survive and come out better than anyone else. He just had a talent for figuring things out and making things happen, but he also had just a massive heart for everyone.” “He had gotten into bitcoins years ago,” Gough added. “I mean, he just had an innate understanding of how things worked. He was definitely a 16 Easy Reader / Beach magazine • January 18, 2018

Harrison Greenberg was an avid fisherman. Photo courtesy the Greenberg family visionary.” Several of his friends were equally ambitious, but in different ways — such as future UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, and University of Washington basketball player K.J. Garrett, who grew up with Harrison in Manhattan Beach. “We surround ourselves with likeminded friends,” Garrett said. “We were all very ambitious. I mean, one of our friends is going to be a top pick in the NFL draft this year. We all loved where we grew up and wanted to stay in that community, and that’s not easy.” But even among his friends, something about Harrison stood out. “His ambition and passion just radiated,” Garrett said. “When you were around him, he had this energy — I don’t know how to describe it, but people just wanted to be around him at all times, like a magnet. Anything he wanted, he’d just put his mind to it...He had skills, with technology and business, that I never had. It was admirable. And he just had so much love for me, I could never understand why. He’d just make me feel at home whenever I was with him.” And so it was a natural progression when, at 19, he ventured out into the world. He enrolled at Loyola Marymount, but he had little patience for academic life and took the spring semester off to do a four month internship across the Pacific. “He wanted to take over Skechers,” Robin Curren said. “He wanted to learn as much as he could and please his mom, his dad, and his grandfather. He really wanted to go far.” His father tries not dwell on what could have been. But sometimes he can’t help himself. “He was a very, very bright young man and had lots of ideas,” he said. “I don't want to get emotional, but I will. You know, I think about what he could have done…” But if the world is a book, as Harrison wrote on his last voyage, then he left behind a bookmark. Some day in the not very distant future a school bus is going to pull up at the foot of the Manhattan Beach pier. A group of kids, maybe from LA, or Compton, or Palos Verdes, will pour out and run to the Roundhouse at the end of the pier. Their voyage will have just begun. Next month: the pier, history and future. For more information on the project, and to donate, see harrisongreenbergmemorialfund.mydagsit B January 18, 2018 • Easy Reader / Beach magazine 17