|Ben Pappas in the late 90's. Photo from http://www.thehundreds.com/|
The documentary, “Gnarly: The Ben Pappas Story”, currently being filmed by Mike Hill from Moonshine Movies, had been criticized as exploitative.
The body of Ben Pappas, 28, was found in the Yarra River near Victoria Harbour in Docklands eight days after his ex-girlfriend Lynette Phillips's battered body was discovered at Dights Falls in Abbotsford on March 3, 2007. Pappas, who rose to skateboard fame as a teenager and earned $15,000 a month during his prime in the US, was dragged from the water by police divers. While it is believed that Pappas was also weighed down in similar fashion to his former girlfriend, police are not ruling out suicide. The homicide squad was called to Docklands on Saturday after Pappas' wallet floated to the surface. Street Word got that the Melbourne drug business may have caught up with him.
Pappas gained success and fame at a young age as one of the world's top skateboarders, but ruined his career after becoming heavily addicted to drugs. He was reportedly addicted to cocaine by the age of 17, and when he was 21 he was caught trying to smuggle 103 grams of cocaine into Melbourne Airport in the sole of a skating shoe.
"It (cocaine) just came with the party," Pappas told the County Court in 1999. "When I was 12 it was kept away from me, but the older I got, the more I saw it and the more I got into it."
Despite avoiding jail, his passport was suspended for three years — meaning he couldn't skate in America, and effectively ending his international career.
Regardless of whether the Pappas documentary should have been halted or not, it would not have been the first of its kind. In the 1990s Mark "Gator" Rogowski was sentenced to jail for murdering Jessica Bergensten. Pappas, case is very similar to Rogowski's in that the murder was allegedly relationship related. The Rogowskis movie : ”Stoked: The rise and fall of Gator” was released in 2003 but Gator is still in jail.
Read More about similar cases involving skateboarders>>>