Billauer suffered an accident at the age of 17 on March 25, 1996, hitting his head on a shallow sandbar after being knocked off his surfboard by a wave. The force broke his neck, severing his spinal cord at the C6 level and instantly rendered him a paraplegic.
Billauer was told by doctors that he would never surf again. However, Billauer eventually did return to surfing, adapting his surfing technique and equipment to the situation of his current condition. He has become a role model guide to many other surfers, both professional and amateur, on how to live a life to the fullest, despite a life changing injury. Through these efforts Jesse has gained sponsorships from companies including Hurley, Channel Islands Surfboards (who developed a "Jesse Billauer" model), LoFric, Wavejet and Shoe City.
After graduating from Malibu High School, Billauer eventually enrolled at San Diego State University, with an emphasis in Communications. He graduated in 2002. He is also a motivational speaker, and is Executive Director the non profit foundation he founded, "Life Rolls On."  Through this foundation, Jesse is taking a leading role in awareness and activism for spinal cord injury related quality of life programs.
The 2003 Docu-Film Step Into Liquid featured his story and his friendship with Rob Machado. Billauer was also featured on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Dateline NBC, Good Morning America, While You Were Out, E! True American Story and more. In 2004 he won the 10News (San Diego) Leadership Award for his commitment to Life Rolls On Foundation.
In 2005 Billauer became the first paraplegic surfer to surf the dangerous waves of Cloudbreak in Fiji. He now surfs utilizing a power assisted surfboard created by Wavejet.
The inaugural "Jesse's Story on Tour" speaking tour began in April 2006. This Tour has traversed the country and Jesse has delivered his message of Overcoming Adversity to over 100,000 people.
In December 2006 Billauer broke his femur while surfing large waves on the North Shore of Oahu (Hawaii). This injury led to the development of improved equipment for disabled surfers. He has recovered and is back in the water surfing again.
In September 2013 he took over as Executive Director and CEO of Life Rolls On Foundation.
Billauer became engaged to his longtime girlfriend on December 6, 2013