A Former Pro Surfer Traded Unpredictable Waves for a Volatile Real Estate Market

Solo Scott likely will always be known as one of the very best surfers ever to hail from the urban shores of Venice.
Solo Scott likely will always be known as one of the very best surfers ever to hail from the urban shores of Venice.
Photo by Danny Liao


Solo Scott grew up in a “hectic household,” he says, describing his Venice homestead on Speedway and Paloma Avenue as a virtual shooting gallery where his mother, a hippie beloved as a local legend, sold heroin and other depressants.

His brother pushed him unwillingly into the nearby waves at age 4, and “like a fish to water, that became my thing,” he says.

Scott rode cold winter surf amid the treacherous pilings of the abandoned Pacific Ocean Park, a core breeding ground for the Dogtown and Z-Boys phenomenon. At age 12, Scott was pressured by a sponsor to decide between surfing and skateboarding. “I said, ‘All right — I’m going to be a surfer.'”

The next year he won both the West Coast and U.S. amateur surfing championships. Scott turned pro after high school and traveled on the U.S. Bud Pro Tour for three years. He likely will always be known as one of the very best surfers ever to hail from the urban shores of Venice. But by his early 20s Scott realized he wasn’t going to be world champ. “That was the prime time of my partying,” he says.

Scott went to Otis College of Art and Design to study photography. And he did “the Hollywood shuffle,” hunting for acting gigs while waiting tables. He got sober for five good years, but when his mother died of cancer in 2001, “All the wheels came off,” he says.

“I was broke and destitute,” says the now 49-year-old. “And I decided this was a good time to get into real estate.”

A fellow Venice legend, Allen Sarlo, had become perhaps an even bigger name in local real estate than in surfing. Scott asked his old friend Sarlo to join him in the business of selling houses. It was good times. “I was making more money than I had ever made,” Scott says.

A Former Pro Surfer Traded Unpredictable Waves for a Volatile Real Estate Market
Photo by Danny Liao

Then the 2007 recession hit. It was so tough on Scott that he left his wife and baby daughter behind for three months in the summer of 2009 to sell roofing door-to-door in Dallas. (Eva is now 7, and the couple has another daughter, 4-year-old Dakota.) But the market eventually improved, and two years ago Scott became a partner in Sarlo’s real estate enterprise.

He still surfs, of course. He was there, with Sarlo, when Dogtown giant Jay Adams died of a heart attack during a 2014 surfing trip in Mexico. And he’s been sober for years, thanks in part to his mother’s memory.

Gloria Scott “helped a ton of people in the music industry,” her son says. “She left a big footprint in the sober community.” The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song “Venice Queen” is about her.

“What’s important is she recovered and was sober for 22 years and helped a ton of people,” Scott says. Including her son.

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