Bethany Hamilton

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Bethany Hamilton
Icone surf portail fr.png
Bethany Hamilton 20070311.jpg
Personal information
Born Bethany Meilani Hamilton
(1990-02-08) February 8, 1990 (age 24)
Lihue, Hawaii, U.S.
Residence Kauai, Hawaii, U.S.
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight 140 lb (64 kg)
Surfing career
Best year 2005
Sponsors Rip Curl
Major achievements ESPY Award (2004)
NSSA National Helping Kids Champion (2005)
2nd place, ASP World Junior Championships (2008)

Bethany Meilani Hamilton (born February 8, 1990) is an American professional surfer who survived a shark attack in which her left arm was bitten off, but ultimately returned to professional surfing. She wrote about her experience in the 2004 autobiography Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. In April 2011, the feature film Soul Surfer was released, based on the book and additional interviews. She has appeared on many television shows since the loss of her arm.

Surfing career[edit]

Placings in surf competitions
Year Event Place Country
1998 Rell Sun Menehune 1st USA
2002 Open Women's Division of the NSSA 1st USA
2004 NSSA National Competition 5th USA
2005 NSSA National Competition 1st USA
2005 O'Neill Island Girl Junior Pro tournament 1st USA
2006 NSSA National Championship: 18-and-under Finalist 5th USA
2006 Hawaii Team Highlights 4th
2007 NSSA Regionals 5th USA
2007 T & C Pipeline Women's Pro 4th USA
2008 US Open of Surfing – Huntington Beach, California 5th USA
2008 Roxy Pro Surf Festival – Phillip Island 3rd Australia
2009 Rio Surf International in Rio de Janeiro 3rd Brazil
2009 Billabong ASP World Junior Championship 2nd Australia
2014 Surf n Sea Pipeline Women's Pro 1st USA

*4th at Brazil event, 5th at World Games event in the United States.

Shark attack and recovery[edit]

On October 31, 2003, at age 13, Bethany Hamilton went for a morning surf along Tunnels Beach, Kauai with best friend Alana Blanchard and Alana's father Holt and brother Bryan. Around 7:30 am., with numerous turtles in the area, she was lying on her surfboard with her left arm dangling in the water, when a 14 foot tiger shark attacked her,[1] severing her left arm just below the shoulder. The Blanchards helped paddle her back to shore, then Alana's father fashioned a tourniquet out of a surfboard leash and wrapped it around the stump of her arm, before she was rushed to Wilcox Memorial Hospital. By the time she arrived there she had lost over 60% of her blood and was in hypovolemic shock. Then a doctor living in a hotel nearby raced to the rescue. Her father, who was scheduled to have knee surgery that morning, was already there, but she took his place in the operating room. She spent a week in recovery before being released. During subsequent media interviews, she confirmed that she felt normal when she was bitten and did not feel much pain from the bite at the moment of the disaster, but felt numb on the way to the hospital.

When the news broke out of the shark attack, a family of fishermen led by Ralph Young, presented to investigators photos of a 14-foot-long tiger shark they had caught and killed about one mile from the attack site. It had surfboard debris in its mouth. When measurements of it mouth were compared with those of Hamilton's broken board, it matched. In late 2004, the police officially confirmed that it was the one that attacked her.

Despite the trauma of the incident, Hamilton was determined to return to surfing.[2] In three weeks after the incident, she returned to her board.[3]

Initially, she adopted a custom-made board that was longer and slightly thicker than standard and had a handle for her right arm, making it easier to paddle, and she learned to kick more to make up for the loss of her left arm. After teaching herself to surf with one arm, on January 10, 2004, she entered a major competition. She now uses standard competitive performance short-boards.[4] Hamilton's broken surfboard that she was riding during the attack is on display at the California Surf Museum.[5]


Since the attack, she has been a guest on numerous television shows. Her manager Roy "Dutch" Hofstetter, who went on to produce the film "Soul Surfer", managed her rise through the media from "shark attack victim" to "inspirational role model". The television shows she has appeared on include The Biggest Loser, 20/20, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today Show and The Tonight Show, as well as in magazines People, Time and American Girl. Additionally, she was the cover story in the premier issue of Nine magazine.[6]

In 2004, she won the ESPY Award for Best Comeback Athlete[7] and also received the Courage Teen Choice Award.[8]

In 2004, MTV Books published Hamilton's book, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board (ISBN 0-7434-9922-0), which describes her ordeal. Her story is also told in the 2007 short subject documentary film, Heart of a Soul Surfer, directed by Becky Baumgartner. Described as a "faith-based documentary", the film addresses her devout Christianity and the courage and faith in Jesus Christ in the aftermath of the shark attack, and follows her quest for spiritual meaning.[9][10]

On August 7, 2009, she was a contestant on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? and won $25,000. On May 16, 2010, she appeared on an episode of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. In March 2011, Hamilton did a video for the Christian organization, I Am Second, telling about her struggle after the shark attack and how she trusted in God to get her through it.

On October 11, 2011, she appeared on the TLC series 19 Kids and Counting, in the episode titled "Duggars Under the Sea", when the Duggar family visited her, in Atlanta, Georgia. Hamilton is due to play herself in the upcoming sequel to the 2011 film Dolphin Tale, which revolves around the baby dolphin Hope's story. Filming began in Clearwater, Florida on October 7, 2013 and is due to finish some time in January 2014. It is set to be released on September 19, 2014.[citation needed]

Hamilton and her husband Adam Dirks are racing as a team in The Amazing Race 25.[11]

Soul Surfer[edit]

On April 8, 2011, a feature film Soul Surfer, based on her 2004 book, was released in theaters. Hamilton was portrayed by actress AnnaSophia Robb. She performs all the one-armed surfing stunts in it.[12] The DVD and Blu-Ray was released on August 2, 2011.

Personal life[edit]

Bethany was home schooled from the age of 10.[2] She is the youngest of three siblings.[13] In early 2012, Hamilton met youth minister[14] Adam Dirks through mutual friends.[15] They became engaged in April 2013.[16] The couple were married on August 18, 2013 in front of 300 friends and family members at a secluded 130-acre estate on Kauai's north shore, near where she grew up.[17]


  1. ^ "About". Bethany's General Biography. 2003. Retrieved September 17, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b "Homeschool World - Articles - Soul Survivor: The Bethany Hamilton Story - Practical Homeschooling Magazine". 2003-10-31. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  3. ^ Clark, Mark (September 24, 2011). "Soul Surfer Interview With Bethany Hamilton!". WhatCulture!. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Bethany Hamilton – Amputee Surfer | The Injury Cooperative". Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  5. ^ Guy Bagley. "Current Exhibits". Retrieved August 19, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Shark attack survivor discusses products and jewelry lines in new mag" by Lanaly Cabali, The Garden Island, June 30, 2006.
  7. ^ "The 2004 ESPY Awards winners". ESPN. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  8. ^ Silverman, Stephen M. (August 9, 2004). "Lindsay Lohan Top Teen Choice Awards". People. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Heart of a Soul Surfer". Walking on Water. Retrieved June 8, 2007. 
  10. ^ "Heart of a Soul Surfer: The Bethany Hamilton Movie". Retrieved June 8, 2007. 
  11. ^ "Cast features survivor veterans, surfer Bethany Hamliton". 2014-05-31. Retrieved 2014-05-31. 
  12. ^ Pilkington, Maria (September 27, 2011). "Bethany Hamilton (Soul Surfer) Interview". The 405. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Bethany Hamilton: About". 
  14. ^ Dodd, Johnny (March 28, 2014). "Bethany Hamilton: My Husband Keeps Me Surfing". People. Retrieved March 28, 2014. 
  15. ^ Webber, Stephanie (August 18, 2013). "Pro Surfer Bethany Hamilton Marries Adam Dirks". Us Weekly. Retrieved August 18, 2013. 
  16. ^ Wicks, Krista (May 7, 2013). "Surfer Bethany Hamilton Engaged". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved May 8, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Bethany Hamilton's Official Wedding Photo". Retrieved June 22, 2014. 

External links[edit]