10/15/2013 01:34 pm ET Updated Oct 15, 2013

Ulu Boy Pursues Pro Surfer Dream Despite Shark Attack


The mere thought of a shark attack would keep most people out of the water. That's not the case for 16-year-old Jimmy "Ulu Boy" Napeahi, who returned to the same Big Island surf spot where he was attacked by a shark just two months earlier.

For Ulu Boy -- whose nickname comes from his middle name "Ulualoha" -- fearlessness comes as the result of his respect for the ocean and his lifelong dream of becoming a professional surfer.

The shark attack occurred last August while he was out surfing at his home break, "Dead Trees," on the Big Island's Pohoiki Bay. He endured fourteen bites across both legs, had a portion of his buttocks bitten off, and received 180 stitches.

Only one day after the horrific incident, Ulu Boy offered his immense respect for the animal that attacked him. "I don't need to fear. That's their territory," he told KITV. "[The shark] had every right to do that and I was just at the right place at the right time, and they chose me."

After recovering from several surgeries, Ulu Boy returned to surf at "Dead Trees" this past weekend. His family and friends came out to support him as he displayed his courage and effortless talent in the water. As one of the top junior surfers in the state, nothing -- not even a shark attack -- will deter Ulu Boy from pursuing his dream of making it as a pro.

"I just say, never give up on the ocean," Ulu Boy told the Big Island Chronicle. "We have to respect that out there we’re in someone else’s territory. And we can’t be afraid of it, we just got to know that it’s there, and respect it ... Have fun and don’t give up surfing, because without surfing we’d be all miserable."

Watch as Ulu Boy speaks about his attack the day after it occurred:


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