In my somewhat limited memory, it seems to me that P.J. Ladd was one of the first skaters to come out of the "wood work". About ten years ago you had all your pros and then some of their friends. Occasionally, their friends would get good enough to become am or pro. P.J. was the first guy that I can remember who came out of nowhere and blew everyone's mind - and became pro instantly.
This revelation was showcased in P.J. Ladd's Wonderful Horrible Life. Make sure you watch that video (it's the first one in this playlist). It's an all time classic. Then try to go outside and do all the tricks in that video part :)
I met some kid from Boston a few years back that use to watch P.J. skate. He told me that he would see P.J. at skating a ledge on his way to school in the morning and on the way home .PJ. would be skating the same ledge. I guess the guy practices all the time. Or at least he did ten years ago. He did mention that PJ obviously didn't care how cold it was outside either. He would just warm up with a cup of coffee and then begin his daily skate session.