Derek Ho, the first native Hawaiian men’s surfing champion, has passed away at the age of 55.
Ho suffered a heart attack and later fell into a coma before his death on July 17.
Family members were able to say goodbye to the surfer before his sudden death at Wahiawa General Hospital, according to Hawaii News Now.
Born on Sept. 26, 1964, in Kailua, Hawaii, Ho began his journey to become a legendary surfer at a young age. He won the 1993 World Surf League Men’s Championship tour and was the first Hawaiian to receive the world title at the age of 29, KHON2 reported.
Ho was also a four-time Triple Crown of Surfing champion for 1984, 1986, 1988 and 1990 as well as a two-time Pipeline Masters champion for 1986 and 1993, according to Legacy.
“Everyone who thinks of Derek thinks of Pipeline,” award-winning surf photographer Brian Bielmann, who has been taking pictures at Pipeline since the ’70s and Ho’s friend, said. “He’s been around so long that he had all the respect, he got any wave he wanted, deservingly so, and he was super stylish and smooth and because he’s been around all these decades he had that sort-of style from that era and he brought it into now.”
— Hannibal Starbuck (@h_starbuck_71) July 18, 2020
Following the news of his death, the World Surf League extended their condolences in a statement.
“It’s horribly sad to learn of the passing of Derek Ho. A four-time Triple Crown Winner, a two-time Pipe Master and the winner of the 1993 World Title, Derek left an indelible mark on the international surfing world and has been a pillar of the North Shore community for five decades. Our hearts are with his loved ones. He will be missed. He will be remembered.”
The legendary surfer left behind a brother, Michael Ho, who is also a champion surfer; a nephew and niece, Mason and Coco Ho, who are also professional surfers.
Sad news about the loss of Hawaii’s first male World Surfing Champion – Derek Ho. Even a few months ago at 55 years old, he was styling at Pipeline, the site of his 1993 championship win. Surfing will miss his effortless style and big smile. Prayers to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/3qbJvBfyMl
— Shaun Tomson (@shauntomson) July 20, 2020
“I think the surfing community lost a world champion, and the North Shore lost a brother, but Pipeline lost a king, and I think that’s how everyone’s going to see it,” Bielmann said.
Feature Image Screenshot via Volcom