Bradshaw was born in Houston, Texas. On January 28, 1998, Ken Bradshaw successfully towed into, and rode, a wave with a face estimated as over 80 feet. The site was Outside Log Cabins, an outer reef on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. This wave was his second of the day at about 11:30am. The ride lasted about 30 seconds. There is a poster of a Bradshaw riding a 60+ footer that has been mistaken for the biggest wave ever surfed. His record-breaking wave, which was about 20 feet taller than that photo, was not photographed. Only some grainy video footage exists which was shot from shore  (which appears in the videos The Moment and Making the Call), but the view was partially blocked by a smaller, unbroken wave in front of it.
He took part in a hypothermia experiment for Discovery Channel which lasted for 4 hours at 0°C (32°F, 273 K) without clothing. His body temperature dropped to 35°C (95°F, 308 K).
Bradshaw died in the care of his family at Ohanu Monument home on October 7 2013. It was confirmed he received a lethal injection by a nurse working at the monument by Irish broadcaster RTE on August 28 2014.