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Bethany Hamilton Reflects on 20 Years Since Shark Attack: ‘God Had So Much More’

Photo from Bethany Hamilton’s Instagram

Bethany Hamilton Reflects on 20 Years Since Shark Attack: ‘God Had So Much More’

By Movieguide® Contributor 

Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton reflected on God’s work in her life 20 years after she lost her left arm in a shark attack. 

In 2003, at the age of 13, Hamilton was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing in Kauai.

Despite this life-altering setback, Hamilton was determined to continue pursuing her passion for surfing. She returned to the sport just a month after the attack, and with intense training and unwavering dedication, she became a professional surfer.

In an Instagram video commemorating the accident, Hamilton shared, “I lost my arm in a shark attack 20 years ago, but it never held me back from living my dreams.”

In the caption, the surfer wrote, “This month marks 20 years since one of the most impactful moments of my life when a shark took my arm while on a surfing off the coast of Kauai, my birth place. Many people could look at the incident back in 2003 as a major setback for me, but God had so much in store for the future!”

“It’s absolutely wild to think how my life started and where it is now and all the amazing yet challenging things in between,” she continued. 

“I didn’t wake up in the hospital thinking I was invincible and was gonna get back to surfing. After getting a hint of inspiration, I had to dream it up, flip my mindset and be willing to do what I had not seen anyone else do,” Hamilton wrote. “This was a challenge to live in faith.” 

“And I am so glad I was willing to try and give it my best shot! Now I get to surf with my two eldest sons Tobias and Wesley and my hubby! I get to enjoy these sweet moments with my newborn daughter. There is so much to be grateful for, and these past 20 years have been filled with incredible moments and huge overcoming seasons,” she added.

“When you have your ‘Shark Attack’ moments in life. I hope you’re willing to try and give life your best shot! You too CAN OVERCOME,” Hamilton concluded. 

Her inspirational journey and achievements in the world of professional surfing have made her a role model for many. Her story inspired the 2011 Movieguide® Award-winning movie SOUL SURFER, which starred Anna Sophia Robb as Hamilton. 

She has also written several books, including her autobiography “Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board.”

Movieguide® previously reported on Hamilton:

“Living my life so much in the public’s eye has been extremely challenging and yet very beautiful at the same time!” she captioned a recent post. “Receiving letters from people all over the world, saying I inspired them to keep going as they faced their hardship… led me to step outside of my comfort zone to encourage and bless others.”

Hamilton admitted that she initially “wanted to hide on my little island” but decided to “enter into the spotlight” to share her story with others. 

“I am so glad I made the decision I did–even when it hasn’t been easy,” she shared.

“God gave me the strength when I was weak,” Hamilton continued. “I am so honored to be able to keep bringing hope to other people. It has been so amazing to see how God has used my life in ways I never imagined!”

Now more than ever we’re bombarded by darkness in media, movies, and TV. Movieguide® has fought back for almost 40 years, working within Hollywood to propel uplifting and positive content. We’re proud to say we’ve collaborated with some of the top industry players to influence and redeem entertainment for Jesus. Still, the most influential person in Hollywood is you. The viewer.

What you listen to, watch, and read has power. Movieguide® wants to give you the resources to empower the good and the beautiful. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support.

You can make a difference with as little as $7. It takes only a moment. If you can, consider supporting our ministry with a monthly gift. Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.


Now more than ever we’re bombarded by darkness in media, movies, and TV. Movieguide® has fought back for almost 40 years, working within Hollywood to propel uplifting and positive content. We’re proud to say we’ve collaborated with some of the top industry players to influence and redeem entertainment for Jesus. Still, the most influential person in Hollywood is you. The viewer.

What you listen to, watch, and read has power. Movieguide® wants to give you the resources to empower the good and the beautiful. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support.

You can make a difference with as little as $7. It takes only a moment. If you can, consider supporting our ministry with a monthly gift. Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.