Today the surfing world is mourning the loss of one its greatest champions -- Andy Irons, who has died at the age of 32.
“Andy was one of the greatest surfers of our time,” Billabong International Ltd., the surf wear maker that sponsored Irons, said in a tribute posted on its website. “More than that, he was a much loved son, a devoted husband, and a soon-to-be father.”
The fact that his wife is due with a baby in December makes it all the more tragic.
How could someone so young and vibrant die just like that?
According to reports, he had been suffering from dengue fever -- a disease spread by mosquitoes. Most people recover from the disease, but in some cases, it can be fatal.
Tragic and terrifying that a small insect could take a life so large with talent and promise.
While his personal struggles and somewhat abrasive attitude created many foes, his undeniable talent earned him widespread respect in the sport.
Billabong posted an amazing video that commemorates his passion and his career:
Others were quick to tout his virtues both on and off the board:
"The thing that I think many of us appreciated the most about Andy was that he was an incredibly real person," said a spokesperson for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, in which Irons was scheduled to compete next week. "Where a lot of champions in sports and celebrities become very guarded and you just wonder sometimes if you're really seeing who they are, you've got Andy Irons 100 percent of the time."
Twitter was peppered with tweets in remembrance of the three-time world champ such as:
RIP Andy Irons. You will be severely missed.
Andy Irons is LEGEND R.I.P.
Surfrider issued the following statement:
The Surfrider Foundation was saddened to hear of the passing of Andy Irons. Andy was a true champion, both in and out of the water. We remain thankful for the time, energy, and support, which he so generously showed us over the years. Our love goes out to Andy’s family and friends.
And in an emotional conversation, childhood friend and fellow surfer Reef McIntosh talked to ESPN about the reaction of folks in Hawaii, where they grew up:
I talked to Phil [Irons], I talked to Bruce [Irons] -- everyone's just crying. I was surfing Mavericks with Shane [Dorian] and everyone else and saw all these missed calls. My girlfriend called and said Andy had died. I didn't return these calls because I didn't want to drive and cry at the same time. Everyone on Kauai is crying right now.
Best wishes to Andy's family in this tragic time.
Image via YouTube