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Skateboarder and entrepreneur Keith Hufnagel dies from brain cancer at 46

A statement released by Hufnagel's company said he had lived with cancer for 2 1/2 years.
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Keith Hufnagel at the TommyLand Tommy Hilfiger Spring 2017 Fashion Show on February 8, 2017 in Venice, California.Joshua Blanchard / Getty Images for Tommy Hilfiger
/ Source: TODAY

Keith Hufnagel, professional skateboarder and founder of streetwear brand Huf Worldwide, has died after a 2 1/2 year battle with brain cancer, his company said in an Instagram post.

Huf Worldwide released a statement on Friday announcing the news.

“We are absolutely heartbroken to deliver the news today that HUF founder Keith Hufnagel has passed away,” the statement began. “Keith battled brain cancer for the past 2.5 years. And though he beat the odds and fought back much longer than his diagnosis permitted, he ultimately and unfortunately lost the fight.

“Keith was not only the ‘HUF’nagel in HUF. He was the heart and soul of this brand. He built and brought together a community of people like no one else could,” the statement continued. “Keith paved the way for all of us – as a respected professional skateboarder, shop owner, brand founder, footwear and apparel designer, creative director, and industry leader. He showed us how to do it, and how do it right.

“Keith loved skateboarding and the culture around it. He did things his way and did them for the right reasons. He inspired so many of us across the globe,” the touching statement read. “But above anything else, Keith loved and supported the people around him. He would do anything for his friends, family and children. He passionately wanted to see others succeed. And we all loved him for it.”

The statement concluded, “Keith’s legacy will continue to live on at HUF. Today, tomorrow and forever. Rest in peace, Keith.”

Hufnagel, who was born on January 21, 1974, grew up in New York City and skateboarded throughout his youth. In 1992, he made the move to San Francisco to pursue skateboarding, according to Huf Worldwide's website.

In an effort to give back to his community on the West Coast, Hufnagel opened a shop called HUF in 2002 to “bring together under one roof the most respected brands that the skateboard, streetwear, and sneaker communities had to offer," according to the company's website. The company sells clothing and accessories and operates stores in the U.S. and Japan.

"The name HUF just stuck with me as a sort of nickname amongst my friends, so once I turned pro I started using it on product and clothing and it became what people recognized me by," Hufnagel told Complex back in 2012. "The whole evolution of the brand was really organic in a sense, and that’s something I’m really proud of. I’m stoked to see the brand where it is at today, considering how it all came about."

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The skateboarding community shared an outpouring of love and support for Hufnagel after the news of his passing broke.

Tony Hawk shared a touching tribute on Instagram Friday, writing, "It’s incredibly sad to hear about the passing of Keith Hufnagel. He was a skating legend of NYC and SF fame, and a pioneer DIY businessman that valued integrity over profits."

"He was also one of the first to recognize Riley as a talented skater on his own merits," he continued. "I am thankful to have spent time with him during my Lakai days; he was the catalyst and my biggest advocate for joining the team. Thank you Huf for all of the good times and constant inspiration. Skateboarding is collectively mourning today. This ride known as 2020 truly sucks."

Atiba Jefferson, a fellow skateboarder and photographer, shared a post honoring the life of Hufnagel on Instagram and their memories together, writing, "We lost one of the kindest humans To skate this planet thank you Huf for showing me NYC when were just kids ... the world is crazy right now tell everyone to you love them 🖤 I luv u."

Hufnagel is survived by his wife, Mariellen Olson, and their two children.