In 2013, when Jimmy Ulualoha Napeahi was 16-years-old, he was attacked by a tiger shark at Pohoiki on Hawaii’s Big Island. Also known as Ulu Boi, he was surfing at Dead Trees when it happened. “I got hit, and then I got bit,” he said from the hospital just after the attack. “Then I started punching the shark. By the time I could see it, it bit my leash off, went straight down, and I hopped on my board. When I ran up the rocks, I felt the back of my leg and my hand just sunk into the back of my thigh. That’s when I knew it was over, so I walked and just fell face first on the rocks.”
After the attack, Ulu Boi’s family and friends tied a tourniquet on his leg to stop the bleeding, then got him to the hospital. Without them, it’s very likely he would have died. But Ulu Boi never even considered not surfing again. “I don’t need the fear,” he said. “That’s their territory. They had every right to do that, and I was just at the right place at the right time, and they chose me.”
Now, just over three years later, Napeahi is back on his feet and charging harder than ever before. And to him, he owes a lot of it to the shark that nearly took his life. “The way I see it,” he says, “I owe that shark my deepest gratitude because it gave me a second chance at life. And to this day, I am continually being blessed. Now that the past is behind me, I want to be known as a good son, a good brother, a good friend, and over all, a good surfer.”
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