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Archive for Sunday, November 23, 2003

Attacked surfer highly sought-after

Thirteen-year-old survived shark bite

November 23, 2003

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— There's talk of a reality show and a clothing line, speaking appearances and a book -- a lot of attention for a 13-year-old girl who's never recorded a song or rehearsed a script.

Bethany Hamilton was known for her surfing skills on Kauai's North Shore, but now tragedy has made her one of the most in-demand teenagers in the national media. On Oct. 31, while she was on her surf board just off shore, a shark attacked her, biting off her left arm. Fellow surfers got her to shore using a surf leash as a tourniquet.

Hamilton made her national debut with a series of interviews last week. In one of the first, she told The Associated Press she would surf again despite her loss. "I can't change it," she said. "That was God's plan for my life, and I'm going to go with it."

She's off to a busy start.

Her TV debut came Friday, when she appeared on "Good Morning America," "20/20" and "Inside Edition."

More is to follow: appearances with talk show hosts Jay Leno, David Letterman and Geraldo Rivera, not to mention stories expected in newspapers and magazines.

Her father, Tom, appeared on NBC's "Today" last week and received a call from his interviewer, Matt Lauer, later that day.

"He said, 'You know, your daughter's the most sought-after teenager in the world. She's even surpassed Jessica Lynch."'

Hamilton is the latest victim of tragedy to grab the spotlight, a place that's been occupied by everyone from Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, clubbed on the knee in a plot linked to rival Tonya Harding, to Aron Ralston, the hiker who cut off his own arm after it was pinned beneath a boulder.

Bethany Hamilton, whose left arm was bitten off by a shark while
she was surfing on Kauai's North Shore, gives an interview in
Kilauea, Hawaii. Hamilton, known for her surfing skills, said she
would surf again despite her loss in the Oct. 31 incident.

Bethany Hamilton, whose left arm was bitten off by a shark while she was surfing on Kauai's North Shore, gives an interview in Kilauea, Hawaii. Hamilton, known for her surfing skills, said she would surf again despite her loss in the Oct. 31 incident.

Unlike victims whose fame is fleeting, Hamilton's manager, Roy Hofstetter, believes her ordeal will have an impact.

"What I'm trying to do is make this 15 minutes of fame into Brand Bethany Hamilton," Hofstetter said.

He said he was also in talks for movies, books, a reality show, a clothing line and a speaking tour.

At the expansive, borrowed Kauai estate where Hamilton gave her first interviews last week, her father explained his family's decision to go public.

"We're not into this for the money," Tom Hamilton said. "But the opportunities are there, and people want to know the story."

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