Bethany Hamilton Is 'Unstoppable,' and She Wants You to Be Too
The "Soul Surfer" shattered expectations of what a shark attack victim looked like and is inspiring others to find hope in the roughest of waters.
When a tiger shark bit off 13-year-old Bethany Hamilton's left arm, in a horrific attack that made waves around the world in 2003, the surfer suddenly wasn't sure what would become of her.
"I really didn't know what my life was gonna be and what I would be doing with it," Hamilton told Inside Edition in 2009.
But nothing was going to stop her from becoming the woman she knew she was meant to be.
Hamilton defied the odds and learned how to surf and live with one arm. She went on to be the elite professional surfer she always dreamed of being, winning major competition titles and being inducted into the Surfer's Hall of Fame. In 2013, she married a youth minister, and the couple now has two little boys together.
Hamilton shattered expectations of what a shark attack victim looked like and inspired others to find hope in what may seem like the roughest of waters.
Now, with a new documentary called "Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable," she is sharing her story of perseverance and faith on the big screen.
"It's funny because when you're naming the film, and we chose 'Unstoppable,' I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, that is just so fitting,'" Bethany told InsideEdition.com ahead of the movie's July 12 premiere.
While Hamilton published her 2004 autobiography "Soul Surfer," which was then turned into a movie starring AnnaSophia Robb, she said this documentary is "the real me."
"We decided ... we can share my story in more depth," Hamilton said. "It's more than I dreamed. I feel very excited just to show my life in this way and continue encouraging people in their own journeys."
The film is encouraging viewers by baring it all, following Hamilton as a child who suffered a life-altering injury and revealing what allowed her to transform into the unyielding young woman she is today.
"My life really centered around my greatest passions, and that was my faith in God and surfing," she said. "So I think when I did lose my arm, I was prepared for that. I had a level head on my shoulders and I knew who I was as a little human."
So while she may not have known what her new normal would be, she knew she couldn't let herself be defined by what she lost.
"I think losing my arm was a speed bump in a sense, and I just kind of continued on the same path that I already had in mind," she said. "I just trusted that God had something beautiful out of what seemed like such a terrible circumstance. And he certainly did, so I'm thankful."
So just one month after the attack, Hamilton was back on her board.
"Oh my gosh, I remember my first wave. I stood up, rode all the way to the beach with one arm," she said.
It was just a small wave — "nothing special," she said. But for her, it was and still is "the most special wave I've ever ridden, and I had just this feeling of joy and happiness."
And it is that achievement — getting back on the metaphorical horse — that Hamilton wants others to know is possible, no matter the setback.
"We all face, like, kind of our 'shark bites,'" she said. "Our terrible circumstances that come our way. So finding that light and hope to push through and find the purpose to keep breathing and pushing towards the things we love."
With "Unstoppable," Hamilton wants people to see themselves in her. "I hope people leave recognizing their obstacles in life and knowing that they can be unstoppable and look for ways to be positive in every situation that comes our way," she said.
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