The 53-year-old was on vacation in Mexico.
Adams, age 53, was known for his low profile surfing style that influenced modern skating, was there with his wife and the 2 were on a long surfing holiday. They had been on vacation Mexico for 3 months.
Emile Hirsch played Adams as a feral, natural skater in "The Lords of Dogtown," Catherine Hardwicke's 2005 film based on the Venice, California, skate scene where, in the hands of a few underprivileged locals, the sport transformed from a novelty into a global phenomenon.
Shortly after Adams died, Hirsch tweeted: "We lost a true wild man with the passing of Jayboy. Jay Adams was a legend who will be missed."
Adams was intending to spend an "endless summer surf vacation," and was set to return to the United States in a couple of days, said Susan Ferris, manager and friend to the Skateboarding Hall of Fame legend.
Family sources went on to tell TMZ that Adams had been sober for months and had no history of heart problems.
Adams joined The Z-Boys in 1974 when they were still a surf team, but by 1975, with a serious drought leaving pools empty all around Southern California, they were riding a massive concrete wave of popularity for skateboarding. The Z-Boys entered the Del Mar Nationals in '75 and Adams went first, taking third for junior men's freestyle.
Since then Adams began to struggle with addiction along with legal trouble for several years. He ended up spending stints doing prison time over the course of the 80's for drugs and assault, and after losing touch with most of his family dived further into drugs by using heroin.
Fellow skating icon Tony Hawk offered tribute to Adams via Twitter on Friday:
"Goodbye Jay Adams. Thank you for inspiring us to get vertical and to keep pushing the limits of what is possible. "
Adams is survived by his wife, as well as children from a previous relationship.