Social media is revealing a viral outpouring of love, support and encouragement for apex Hawaiian surfer and Men’s World Champion, Sunny Garcia, who is currently in critical condition in the ICU of a Portland-area hospital.
Kelly Slater posted: “Sunny…I love you, brother. I just can’t even fathom you not here. We’ve got so much more living to do before we are done. There’s been hard times but there have been so many good ones, too. Just praying you wake up and we get more of you.”
Details on what exactly put him there are murky at this point, but 49-year-old Garcia was outspoken about his battle with depression. “In 2012, I won the HIC Pro at Sunset,” Garcia said in a 2017 interview. “I was so happy and my son carried me up the beach. I was 42, the oldest guy to win a ‘QS event and I was a grandpa — first and only grandpa to win a QS event. I loaded up my car, and I was driving back home, and I had this feeling that all I wanted to do was drive my car into a pole, and I couldn’t figure out why.”
Born in 1970 in Honolulu, Garcia grew up in the tough Westside town of Waianae, honing his young talent at Makaha before dropping out of high school to join the World Tour in 1985, where he remained a decorated veteran for two decades straight before retiring following the 2005 season. He still holds the record for most Triple Crown of Surfing victories (six), arguably the most coveted trophy in the sport next to the World Title, which he also won, in 2000. Garcia was the last Men’s World Champion to come from Hawaiian blood. In 2010, he was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame at Huntington Beach before being elected to the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.