Half a box of beer down and Ralph could be any ordinary Kiwi bloke right now, enjoying a cold one and talking shit with the boys.
But what if someone told you that this weathered 43-year-old with a beatific smile was a living legend?
What if someone said that this ragged character was a near-phaetonian figure – a man who changed a sport forever?
That’s right. Lee Ralph: the caveman-poet of skateboarding, a guy who went to California in the mid 80s as a wide-eyed Auckland teenager, and outshone the best skateboarders in the world during the sport’s glory years.
Lee Ralph: a man who tasted fame and fortune in pro sport before turning ghost, allowing his name to walk where his feet or skateboard never would.
A wild-looking, grinning bloke in West Auckland whose shadow stills falls over skate bowls the world over.
Someone who appeared from nowhere when his sport needed it and blew minds with a rawness and passion that was undeniable. An athlete more akin to the artist who neglects everything else in their life to simply create.
”He was aggressive, but had a really good style. Just so flowing,” film-maker Andrew Moore, director of the documentary No More Heroes, which focuses on the rise of Kiwi skateboarding in the 70s and 80s, says.
”He did a lot of tricks that no one had seen over there, and the Americans just loved it. To this day, any American skater you meet will always ask about Lee Ralph.”