Phelps' brash attitude and use of homophobic slurs made him a divisive figure for some in the skating community. In 2016, he lashed out when celebrities including Rhianna and Justin Bieber started wearing Thrasher apparel.
Phelps spent the first 11 years of his life in California before his parents divorced. He moved to Massachusetts with his mom, according to the California Sunday Magazine profile. That's where he first learned to skate and was briefly sponsored by Pepsi in the late 1970s.
He returned to San Francisco in the 1980s, working at a skate shop in the Haight before starting to write for Thrasher and boxing the brand's hats and T-shirts at its Hunters Point warehouse. Phelps would give editorial input on the magazine while working the warehouse before eventually being tapped to take over the publication in 1993.
"Jake Phelps was 100% skateboarder, but that label sells him way too short," Vitello wrote in his Instagram remembrance, "because beyond his enormous influence in our world, he was truly an individual beyond this world."