Celebrity Speaker Bethany Hamilton is one of the latest motivational athletes to gain major celebrity through her courageous triumphs in sport. As an athlete, Bethany has gained fame through her excellence on a surfboard and her near-death tragedy out on the water. Hamilton survived a now famous shark attack as a teenager, which ultimately cost her an arm. The story became a national phenomenon in 2004, and eventually led to the production of the feature-film Soul Surfer.
Celebrity Speaker Bethany Hamilton’s near-fatal attack occurred in 2003 when she was just the tender age of 13. A 14-foot Tiger Shark severed nearly her entire left arm, and caused Bethany to lose nearly 60% of her body’s blood. After just three weeks Bethany, with one arm, was back on a surfboard taking on a slew of waves. The potentially tragic event turned Bethany into a celebrity in the following months giving her the chance to tell her story on a variety of talk show forums including The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. In 2004 she was honored with an ESPN Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award (ESPY) for Best Comeback Athlete. Hamilton also released a book documenting her life up to and following the attack called Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board. By 2011, Hollywood determined it was time to put Bethany’s story on the big screen, and the film Soul Surfer was produced based on her book. The movie grossed nearly $50 million in the box office and was considered a commercial success. Bethany also starred in the film Dolphin Tale 2 and competed on the 25th season of The Amazing Race with her husband Adam Dirks in 2014.
In recent years Bethany has continued surfing and started a new career as a motivational speaker. Aside from her career she’s also played a role in charitable efforts through Friends of Bethany (her own charity) and SurfAid.