“Am I Dying?”: Surfing Icon Faced the Reality of ‘Fear’ After Horrifying Near-Death Wipeout Experience One Year Ago

Published 12/20/2022, 6:30 AM EST

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Billy Kemper is one of the greatest surfers in the sport’s history. The four-time Pe’ahi Challenge Champion comes from Hawaii with a dream of becoming the most celebrated surfer ever. Although Billy might seem fit and fine now, it was not the same two years back. The 30-year-old surfer made headlines for his life-threatening wipeout while surfing in Morocco.

In a 2021 documentary video, Billy Kemper recalled the whole incident. According to the surfer, the accident made him feel what fear really is and how death can encounter anyone in any situation. Moreover, Billy felt that his “leg was snapped in 20 pieces.”


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Billy Kemper thought he could never walk again

In 2020, Billy Kemper went on a trip with his fellow surfing mates to Morocco. On the last day of the trip, they went surfing, giving it a memorable ending. Everything went fine until a thick wave wiped out Billy. As soon as the wave hit him, he was knocked out. Soon, he could not move his body, although it looked fine from the outside.


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A post shared by Billy Kemper (@billykemper)

Everybody rushed to help him in the water, but nothing worked. The thick wave had injured the right side of his body, lungs to pelvis, quad, and his whole knee. Their lifeguard came to assist and place Billy on the sled. Billy felt paralyzed at that moment. Billy shared his thoughts in his documentary on World Surf League:

I thought I knew what fear was, I thought I knew what being scared is. But I truly didn’t. Fear is not knowing what’s going to happen next. I felt like, “Am I going to walk again?” I didn’t even know what was happening. Am I dying?

Read More: “I Felt My Legs Had Snapped Into 20 Pieces”: Surfing Champ Billy Kemper Felt ‘Paralyzed’ After an Easy Entry Morphed Into Horrific Exit In 2020

He immediately went through an X-ray reaching the hospital. For Billy, moving even for an inch was also very painful. Crying in pain, he called his wife to inform her of his condition.

Kemper returned to surfing in Morocco in 2022


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After recovering from a devastating accident, Billy felt the need to fight his Morocco fear. According to him, the accident was the wave’s fault. For Billy, the main agenda was to fight the fear of surfing in Morocco. In an interview with The Inertia, he stated: “I wanted to feel what it was like to be back out there. As much as that was scaring me, I realized there’s nothing to hide from.”


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Although his family was hesitant, he had to go back to Morocco. The surfer did his shot at redemption without any injury.

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Written by:

Muskan Sharma


One take at a time

Muskan Sharma is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. She has a degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Calcutta. Muskan has worked as a writer for 3+ years but has a knack for filmmaking, too.
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Edited by:

Simar Singh Wadhwa