Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

Spotlight on Bethany Hamilton

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

Lessons from Bethany Hamilton
Real-life women who inspire us
Female athletes who give back

Leave a Comment