At only the age of 26, Bethany Hamilton seems to already have a world of experience under her belt. After all, she was only 13 when she lost her left arm to a 14-foot-tiger shark. It looked like her impressive surfing career would be abruptly halted, but boy was the world wrong. Only one month after the attack, Hamilton returned to the water and within 2 years had won her first National title. Her amazing story became a New York Times best selling autobiography and the film Soul Surfer starring Annasophia Robb and Helen Hunt.
In addition to her surfing career, Hamilton started her own foundation, Friends of Bethany, which reaches out to amputees and youth. She also is constantly promoting the benefits of a healthy, exercise-happy lifestyle and has even written a book about it, Body and Soul. She is also a part of the 2017 film Surfs Like a Girl which will showcase her as one of the best women surfers in the world, is set to release in Spring 2017. And on top of all that she is a devoted wife and mother. Earlier this year Bethany and Damon Braces debuted the free Bethany Hamilton Damon™ Smile Emoji keyboard and held an emoji contest for the soon to be expanded keyboard earlier this month. Levo.com got to catch up with this amazing woman and pick her brain about her extraordinary career and of course the power of her smile.
“I like to say I have been “Emojified!” I think that the power of a smile can really have a positive impact on your self-esteem and overall health. I received Damon Braces treatmentwhen I was 14, and it did wonders for my confidence during those odd teenage years. The emoji keyboard that Damon Braces and I teamed up to create gives teenagers, and really people of all ages, the opportunity to embrace their smiles and spread the positivity with their friends. It’s fun to be a part of. Any chance I have to impact someone’s life in a positive way is awesome!”
As for what she tell her 22 year old self when it came to her career she says it is all about pursuing your passion. “I’d say keep doing what you love. So many great things have happened in the last five years –from getting married to starting a family, and it’s all been so amazing. Make smart financial decisions, surf a lot, and surf some more!”
When she does face challenges in her career she says the support system of her close-knit family is absolutely vital. “My parents and siblings all live close by and my husband Adam is so supportive of anything I do. It’s awesome to have people that love and understand me, who will be there for me when things don’t go so smoothly. I think another important thing is to have a positive outlook. I’ve learned to look for things to be grateful for when I’m feeling down.”
Of course, it can be easy to be positive when you get to spend your day in the ocean. “I get to do what I love every day. Having your office be the ocean is pretty amazing, and other than being with my family there’s no place I’d rather be. Getting to travel and see different parts of the world is incredible too.”
Photo: Joe Scarnici/WireImage