“I’d Have to Be Dead”: Despite Life Threatening Accident, Surfer Rejected Missing One of the Biggest Waves of the Year

Published 03/20/2023, 3:23 PM EDT

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Surfer Billy Kemper’s life was not the same anymore after February 18, 2020. The huge wipeout at Safi in Morocco, left the legendary surfer with a new perspective on life. Most importantly, it did not make Kemper apprehensive about surfing. In fact, days after recovering, the 32-year-old surfer gathered the courage to make his comeback at the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational. 

Recently, Billy Kemper released the third part of his docu-series titled – PART 3: BIGGEST WAIMEA EVER – Nothing Good In Life Comes Easy on the YouTube channel T&C Surf Designs. The legendary surfer talked about going against all the odds and participating in one of the most prestigious surfing championships. 

Billy Kemper knew there was no going back…


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After returning from the hospital, Kemper was in a miserable condition. He faced difficulty in seeing light and could not even spell his own name. He was suffering from a severe concussion after the accident. However, he resorted to therapy and eventually recovered from his disabilities. Soon after his recovery, Kemper was offered to participate in the prestigious 2022 Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational at Waimea Bay. 

Going back to surfing just after recovering from a life-threatening incident, had taken the surfer aback. However, it also left a spiritual and mental effect on him that told him that his journey is not over. He stated in the docu-series, “ I told myself I wasn’t going to miss this event you know I’d have to be dead to not show up at the Eddie”

Furthermore, he expressed the importance of the Eddie surfing event to him, “The level of big wave riding, the reason for big wave riding, and everything about it you know why we’re out there, what we’re doing… that event means so much to me”

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

The Eddie required the surfer to ride on 50 to 60 feet waves. Kemper rejected the idea of not participating and showed up at the prestigious event. Surfing against some of the greatest surfers like John John Florence, and Mark Healey, Kemper came fourth in the competition. Indeed, the accident created a huge impact on Kemper’s life as he learned and unlearned many things for the better. 

Billy Kemper turned sober and developed a new perspective on life


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Before his life-threatening accident in 2020, Kemper would consume alcohol at 100% of his capacity. However, after a near-death experience during the pandemic year, Kemper developed a new perspective on his life. 


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A post shared by Billy Kemper (@billykemper)


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Along with his friend of 11 years, surfer Kahea Hart, he formed a pact of “no drinking, no partying”. Kemper would only surf, something that he is passionate about. Moreover, he prioritized his four children and wife Tahiti Hernandez. He has clearly made up his mind about not going down the road of addiction ever, again. 

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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:

Anupama Ghosh