Meet The
Soul Surfer

Bethany Hamilton overcame great odds and became a professional surfer in spite of losing her left arm to a shark attack at the age of 13. Learn more about this incredible young woman and what inspires her.

Bethany HamiltonVital stats

Birthday: February 8, 1990
Astrological sign: Capricorn
Home: Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 140 lbs
Turned Pro: 2007
Siblings: Noah & Timothy
Favorite activities (besides surfing): Tennis, hiking, biking, soccer and rollerblading
Favorite food: Vegetables
Motto: Love life!

Photo credit: Judy Eddy/

Inspiration after tragedy

Bethany Hamilton appeared in the international spotlight at the age of 13 in October, 2003, when she was attacked by a tiger shark while surfing and her left arm was amputated. Her strong faith, determination and love for the ocean and surfing inspired her to continue to follow her dream of becoming a professional surfer. One month after the shark attack, Bethany was in the water again; in January 2004, she returned to competition. One year after the shark attack, Bethany took first place in the Explorer Women's division of the NSSA National Championships.

After the attack, Bethany's story of survival was embraced by international media, and she shared her story with news organizations and magazines, and through inspirational talks at churches around the world. Bethany believes that her belief and faith in Jesus Christ helped her survive the attack and persevere. Although Bethany continues to work hard on professional surfing, competing and winning major events, she also continues to inspire young people through her sport, her faith and her charities.

Busy Bethany

When Bethany isn't following her busy surfing competition schedule, she concentrates on working with charities and publishing books that inspire. In 2004, Bethany published her life story in her autobiography, Soul Surfer, which became a major motion picture of the same name in April 2011. Her inspirational story showed how faith, determination and hard work helped her beat the odds and follow her dream of becoming a professional surfer. She has published several other books, including Devotions for the Soul Surfer, A Soul Surfer Bible, Rise Above and Ask Bethany, as well as a series of novels including Clash, Burned, Storm and Crunch.

Bethany created her own charity, Friends of Bethany, to support amputees and shark-attack survivors around the world through prayer. The organization connects them to organizations relevant to their needs and helps them share their inspiring life stories. Bethany is also active in supporting and raising money for several other charities, including World Vision, Walking on Water, The Foundation for a Better Life and Women's Sports Foundation.

Bethany created a line of fragrances and cosmetics for girls and guys called Stoked and Wired, respectively. A percentage of the proceeds for these products goes to one of Bethany's favorite charities, World Vision. The product packaging was specially made for easy opening with only one hand.

At the young age of 20, Bethany Hamilton has not only proven that anything is possible, but also has inspired people around the globe with her story. She is a constant reminder to young and old alike that anything is possible if you work hard and believe in yourself.

More on inspiring women

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Comments on "Spotlight on Bethany Hamilton"

jessica hope cooper January 05, 2012 | 7:46 PM

dear bethany, i think of u as a very brave and inspiring woman keep up the good work p.s-did i tell you i am a surfer 2 =-]

Debbie Mitchell August 24, 2011 | 6:35 PM

I am a 57 year old jewish woman. I watched the movie and scrolled down to really see who you were. You have inspired me, your strength amazes me. It doesn't matter who or what you believe in as long as you have "Faith" and believe in yourself. I have admiration for you, you are one the most beautiful young ladies I have ever seen..."inside and out" thank you for changing my life in a positive way!!!! Debbie

brooklyn August 23, 2011 | 6:04 PM

bethany your so awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you give courage to me every time i play SOCCER.JUST LIKE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anna Rodriguez August 22, 2011 | 6:59 PM

When I watched the movie Soul Surfer, I was really amazed that you won the competition and from the movie I have learned to believe in myself when things get to hard for me and to never give up.

Morghan August 21, 2011 | 5:42 PM

Hi bethany my name is morghan me and my friend emily love you so much you are our idol when i watched the movie soulsurfer it made me scared to get back in the ocean but now i believe in myself like you did and you never give up. your amazing bethany we love you!

Ed (aka: speedsarush) August 21, 2011 | 2:23 PM

Dear Bethany, just like other significant events, I remember where I was when I heard about your encounter with a shark. I was in "The Gorge" Oregon having a great day windsurfing. About the only menacing thing here are barges hauling whatever up and down the river. And if I had a choice of wrangaling with a barge or a shark...I"ll take the barge. I bought the movie and just had to say your "AWESOME" SURF"S UP...SEEYA...

LT Smith August 20, 2011 | 7:13 PM

Dear Bethany, May God ever bless and keep you as you continue to fulfill the path He has set for your life. Just finished watching the movie "Soul Sufer", I truly enjoyed every soul inspiring moment. Thank you for not giving up on your dream. God is not through with you yet. The best is yet to come!!

sarah August 20, 2011 | 3:55 PM

you are very brave

John Stutsman August 19, 2011 | 4:56 PM

Dear Bethany Hamilton, My name is John, I live in Jacksonville,Fl with my family and my other family too. I have an surgery implant, i am deaf, but i can hear and speak alot a time. I am Christian and my family too. I really want to pray for you and so how was Alana, was she working surfing this weekend? I liked the movie Soul Surfer because it was great one! I surf try very lttle good and my sister Taylor Trent, she surf's great! I had a new high school, i was afriad because there were too many in there. Does God would take care of me a whole life? I will pray for you and what about me too and everyone? Have peace with you. from, John Stutsman

sarah August 18, 2011 | 4:17 PM

bethany hamilton i am so happy that you got on your board again after the attack i would never be able to do that. You are so awesome at surfering i wish that i could be that good of a surfer. Also i love that you and your family are christans ( i am one to) also tell your bother noah that the person that played him played him well, and tell timmy that that one of my faviorte parts of the movie was when he said wheres my spam and annasophie says mexico. thats so funny well i have to ask did annasophie know how to surf before the movie or do you and your traner teach her. well my god bless you and your family and i will be routing for you in your next competion. by the way my name is sarah and iam 14 please write me back please.

Sydney August 18, 2011 | 1:52 PM

Bethany Hamilton,tell me one good thing NOT to say about her. She is GREAT romodel that kids could look up to. I can't believe she is alive after the devistating tiger shark attak! She is a true inspiration. She is DEFINATELY my romodel. She commited her life to God and that is what everyone should do. WOW

Lisa August 17, 2011 | 7:43 PM

You have a BIG heart and I admire your strength! Keep up the great work Bethany! XoXoXo

kali August 14, 2011 | 5:45 PM

you are so brave i love your moive me and my friends love the water we try to srsurf every day you r my best persin.

Rachel August 14, 2011 | 8:11 AM

Hi Bethany, You are an amazing surfer and a true inspiration to every kid in the world. Your movie was amazing! I hope to meet you someday to see what you are like in person. I know you'll be super nice and you'll always be an inspiration to me. Thank you, Rachel

mike August 13, 2011 | 6:56 PM

just got done watching your movie and just want to say thank you. god has a plan for us all but i often wonder what it is. you see god took everything away from me including my 10 year old son and i just didnt understand. maybe i will never understand!! thank you for your story and may tomorrow be a better day god willing.

Betty August 13, 2011 | 8:22 AM

Hi Bethany We just saw your story "Soul Surfer". I'm a gramdmother 77yrs old, and I took my grandson ( 8 yrs.) along with me to see the movie. What a strong impression you made on him. You showed him your courage, faith, not to give up, and to be positive. Thank you for that I pray that the Lord keeps me around for awhile so I can take him back again to see this movie 1 or 2 yrs from now. God Bless you, and you are a real inspiration.

Maddy August 12, 2011 | 6:21 AM

that was so brave of u to get back on your board after the atack. i loved the movie please write me back

gauge sollis August 11, 2011 | 9:17 PM

Because of you im never going to give up my dreams and keep faith in the lord for what the things i do i want to thank you for showing that no matter what happens in life to never give up on my dreams. thank you bethany hamilton and god bless you.

Jessica August 10, 2011 | 1:16 PM

I am your beggest fan I love you I got your movie from a christan shop I wish I was as brave as you Ive watched it everyday of the week I even have your neckless. I really wish I could meet you. i wish you all my Love Jessica i am 12 try to write back

amarani August 09, 2011 | 10:07 PM

love it :)

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