Early one morning in November of 2003, Bethany Hamilton went to Makua Beach on Kauai in Hawaii to go surfing. A 13-year-old competitive surfer, Hamilton often went surfing with her best friend and fellow competitor, Alana Blanchard. On this morning, Bethany and Alana were joined by Holt and Byron Blanchard, Alana's dad and brother. At about 7:30 a.m., a tiger shark, probably 12 to 15 feet (3.6 to 4.5 meters) in length, suddenly bit off Hamilton's left arm just below the shoulder.
After Hamilton was attacked, instead of panicking and possibly drowning, she used her one arm to paddle over to her friends. Along the way, she even made sure to warn other surfers and swimmers nearby, shouting that there was a shark. Many of Hamilton's friends and family attest to her quiet strength, pointing out that she has never cried about the incident. Even her doctors were surprised at her determination.