“That’s Not What You Want to See”: Hawaiian Pro Surfer Recalls Family’s Reaction to His Backdoor Shootout Tragedy

Published 03/16/2023, 4:15 PM EDT

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The surfer is at the complete mercy of the ocean waves, making surfing a difficult sport. The thrills of the sport are undeniable, but its adherents must always be vigilant against the many threats that lie in the shadows. Billy Kemper, a professional surfer from Hawaii, recently discussed the worst injury of his career, which occurred during a Backdoor Shootout competition in his native location. The thirty-two-year-old surfer is well known as a brilliant practitioner of the sport, but he will never forget the trauma he experienced in the immediate aftermath of his injuries.

T&C Surf Designs posted an interview with surfer Billy Kemper on their YouTube channel, in which Kemper discusses his struggle with injuries. The Hawaiian surfer is a household name in the surfing world, but he didn’t always have it easy. He recalls one of the most harrowing moments of his life when he was injured while surfing.

His Backdoor Shootout tragedy


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On January 11th, the surfer slayed one of the world’s most treacherous big wave spots, Jaws. Billy Kemper returned home for the Backdoor Shootout competition two days later by plane. The surfer’s session at Jaws was so great that he was certain that he would also have a great session here, where his family members and sponsors would be waiting with bated breath. But things quickly went sideways when Kemper made a poor judgment call and crashed into both the surfboard and the wave on the back of his head. Kemper lost consciousness after taking a blow to the head, and he also damaged his hamstring and bulging spinal discs. The fact that his sponsors and family members were there when it happened made the situation even messier.

In the interview, Kemper talks about his family’s reaction, saying, My kids seeing their father; my wife seeing her husband unconscious on the beach at Pipeline. Their emotions were connected because they were there in person. They’ve never seen me come out of the water unconscious. They’ve never seen me get rescued like that, and one of the first things I’ve seen when I was on that stretcher when they were getting me oxygen.” He also talks about his most traumatic moment, saying, “I turned my head and I made eye contact with my son, Lion, who’s five years old screaming, and I had some stitches; I was cut on my face, so there’s blood everywhere, and that look on a kid at five years old like that’s not what you want to see.”

How did the surfing community react to this story?

Among surfers, Billy Kemper is hardly a stranger. One of the unspoken goals of a Maui upbringing is to become a world-class surfer. Beyond only meeting or exceeding them, he has written himself into the annals of big wave surfing history by winning the Pe’ahi Challenge four times. His dedicated followers rushed to the comment area after hearing about his struggles. Here are some of them.

This fan is just overwhelmed by the surfer’s dedication to the sport, as they say, “Billy you are one of the most amazing human beings the plus is you’re a surfer dude one hell of a surfer every setback every comeback just shows the surfing world what an awesome guy you are husband father and one of the world’s best Surfers. God bless you Billy hope you are doing well.”

Another fan also loves the video as he thanks T&C Surf Designs for uploading it, saying, I really only knew of Billy through watching some Vlog’s we’re he scored some great waves. Now thanks to T&C I’m seeing the person who is Billy. Awesome insights. I’ve always wanted a T&C board to surf as it’s totally a historical brand & hopefully one day in the future i shall have one.”


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Kemper has become an inspiration for this fan, as they left a comment, saying, “Great job your a inspiration for sure.”

Apart from all the injury talk, it looks like this fan just wants to hear something good from the surfer as they say, “Well said… now tell them whats good in life…”


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 WATCH THIS STORY – Top 5 Unwritten Rules That Will Elevate Your Surfing Game

What do you think of this surfer’s traumatic story? Let us know in the comment section.


Written by:

Rahul Goutam Hoom


One take at a time

Rahul Goutam Hoom is a US Sports writer for EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his Master's in Mass Communication and Journalism from Birla Global University. Rahul does photography and gaming during his leisure hours and likes to watch anime.
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Edited by:

Debmallya Chakraborty