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Bethany Hamilton is a successful pro athlete who began surfing at a young age. As she got older, the Lihue, Hawaii, native became one of the best surfers in the world.

At age 13, Hamilton experienced a shark attack while on her board. The traumatizing accident saw her lose her arm, but it didn’t stop her from doing what she loves.

Bethany Hamilton overcame a terrifying shark attack

In 2003, Bethany Hamilton spent a morning surfing with her best friend and her best friend’s father and brothers. While they were in the water, a tiger shark attacked Hamilton and bit her left arm, severing it. Her best friend and her family helped paddle her back to shore, and she was rushed to the hospital. When she arrived, she had lost over 60% of her blood and was in hypovolemic shock.

When news broke about the incident, a fisherman caught and killed a tiger shark and presented it to investigators, according to The Guardian. The next year, police confirmed it was the same shark that had attacked Hamilton.

Just 26 days after the shark attack, Hamilton returned to the water, taught herself how to surf with just one arm, and entered her first major competition on Jan. 10, 2004. She has since competed in events in the United States and other countries, placing first in a number of competitions and establishing herself as one of the best surfers in the world.

In 2012, she became the first female surfer to compete in the Rip Curl Cup.

Bethany Hamilton received a lot of recognition after coming back from her incident

Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton carries her surfboard as she walks along the beach
Bethany Hamilton of Hawaii during Round 2 of the 2020 Sydney Surf Pro | Matt Dunbar/WSL via Getty Images

Many people have followed Bethany Hamilton’s career since the tiger shark attacked her.

In 2004, she won the ESPY Award for Best Comeback Athlete. She also received the Courage Teen Choice Award. That same year, she published her autobiography, Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. In the book, Hamilton discussed the time leading up to the shark attack, how she recovered, and how she dealt with the media. She also talked about returning to competition.

Over the years, she’s authored and co-authored several books about her amazing story, healthy lifestyle, and faith. In doing so, Hamilton has served as an inspiration to many people.

As recently as 2022, Hamilton competed in the World Surf League’s 2022 Billabong Pro Pipeline, placing ninth. She finished fourth at the Priority Destinations Pro later that year.

Bethany Hamilton continues to reach others in many ways

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Aside from writing books, Bethany Hamilton has appeared on numerous TV shows.

In 2011, the feature film Soul Surfer premiered. Based on Hamilton’s autobiography, which was published in 2004, Soul Surfer starred big names like Anna Sophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, and Carrie Underwood.

Hamilton also enjoys giving back and is part of numerous charitable efforts in Hawaii and abroad, per Us Weekly.

Hamilton’s foundation, Friends of Bethany, reaches out to amputees and other youths in an attempt to help encourage them to overcome whatever difficulties they face. She also led a mother-daughter mentorship retreat in Hawaii and produced an autobiographical film, Unstoppable, which won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at the San Luis Obispo Film Festival.

Now 33 years old, Hamilton has been married to Adam Dirks since 2013. They have three children.