[Update: Bethany Hamilton is awesome. Click here to read about another cool female athlete.]
Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton is incredibly inspiring: After losing her arm to a shark when she was only 13, not only did she have to relearn every aspect of surfing, but the only way to regain that passion was to get back into the water that had cost her her arm. Soul Surfer (out today) retells the story, with AnnaSophia Robb playing Hamilton, but we learned some fascinating facts about this survivor.
1. Her whole life is documented.
It was easy to think that in Soul Surfer it was simply a plot device that Hamilton’s brother Noah had filmed her since she was a child; that way, it was easier for the Hamiltons to help Bethany adjust to her new physical self. But at the end of the film, you get to see real footage, and realize that the movie followed Noah’s home videos almost shot-for-shot.
2. She keeps it in the family.
After recovering from her attack and returning to the surfing world, Hamilton built a brand around herself. If any teenager needed a personal assistant it was her. But instead of inviting a stranger into her daily life, she hired her brother Noah’s then-girlfriend Becky Baumgartner. Baumgartner has since married Noah and is now officially a part of the Hamilton family, both personally and professionally; she recently directed Heart of a Soul Surfer: The Bethany Hamilton Documentary.
3. She kept her composure during the shark attack.
Part of what made Robb’s performance so chilling was how still and quiet she went during the shark attack scene. It turns out that that’s exactly how Hamilton acted on that fateful day. Robb said that she and Hamilton discussed the shark attack only very briefly, but that the real Bethany remained calm on the way to the hospital.
4. She hasn’t lost her adventurous spirit.
This photo from her official website shows Hamilton skydiving with the best of ‘em:
5. She endorses one-armed beauty products.
In2008, Hamilton introduced a new lip gloss called “Stoked”, which you need only one arm to open. Since then, “Stoked” has extended to a whole line of products, including perfume, sunscreen, and cologne for guys. A portion of the proceeds goes to the charity World Vision.