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Brock Little: “I Have Cancer. It Sucks.”

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Son of a bitch…

The noted Hawaiian big-wave surfer and Hollywood stuntman Brock Little took to Instagram yesterday to announce his cancer diagnosis.

“To My instagram friends, if u didn’t know already- I don’t look at my instagram or run it, but that changes today, my brother @clarklittle set up the account & my good friend @420_north (jess) did me a great favor & showed the instagram world I’m alive & having fun ! I’m not sure how interested I’ll be in instagram but from now on everything u see posted will come from me. Love Brock.”

Today, he wrote: “I have cancer. It sucks, but I taking chemo. You do what you can. Can’t believe the person in that picture is me. I look in the mirror and I feel like it’s not me.”

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Who doensn’t love the classy, handsome, and fantastically humorous Hawaiian?

Let’s examine Brock’s career, as chronicled by Matt Warsaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing. 

“Unflinching big-wave surfer and world traveler from Haleiwa, Hawaii; runner-up in the 1990 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest at Waimea Bay. Little was born (1967) in Napa, California, moved with his family to Hawaii at age three, and began surfing at age seven. He was a finalist in the menehune division of the 1980 United States Surfing Championships; just over six years later the 145-pound pencil-legged rookie pro placed fourth in the 1986 Quiksilver event, held in ragged 20-foot surf at Waimea. Little was 19; Clyde Aikau, Mark Foo, and Ken Bradshaw, the three surfers who placed ahead of him, were 37, 28, and 34, respectively.

“Although Little was runner-up to Hawaiian surfer Keone Downing in the 1990 Quiksilver contest, held in spectacular 25 to 30-foot Waimea surf, he stole the show with a gladiatorial wipeout on the biggest wave of the day, and followed up by pulling into the tube on a 20-footer—a rarity in big-wave surfing at the time—and nearly making it out. Little’s relaxed, loose-armed style made his big-wave bravado seem all the cooler. Along with fellow Hawaiian Darrick Doerner, Little was named as the best Waimea riders in peer polls conducted in 1990 and 1993. Little went on to place highly in most of the big-wave events over the next few years.

Brock was the informal mentor to a slightly younger generation of Hawaiian big-wave surfers, including Todd Chesser and Shane Dorian, and was the most vocal proponent of the idea that big-wave riding, rather than being a spiritual exercise or a test of character, was just hugely fun.

“Little authored nearly 30 articles for Surfer and Surfing magazines between 1989 to 1997, mainly travel stories and big-wave features. He was the informal mentor to a slightly younger generation of Hawaiian big-wave surfers, including Todd Chesser and Shane Dorian, and was the most vocal proponent of the idea that big-wave riding, rather than being a spiritual exercise or a test of character, was just hugely fun.

“Little and fellow Hawaiian big-wave rider Mark Foo both rode Maverick’s for the first time on December 23, 1994. Around noon, Foo wiped out on a 15- foot wave while dropping in; Little and California big-wave rider Mike Parsons wiped out on the wave following and were washed into a nearshore rock out-cropping, where they both struggled mightily to get free and make it ashore. Foo had meanwhile been pushed to the bottom and drowned.

“People think that would be one of the worst ways to die, but it isn’t. I was held underwater so long one time last year that after a while everything went black and these red dots were going off in the blackness. Then I went from fighting — I never panic, I fight; there’s a big difference — to just relaxing. And after a while I just swam up. So I realized that if I die underwater, I’ll die relaxed. I’m not worried about it that much. If I die surfing, people shouldn’t feel bad.”

“Working regularly as a Hollywood stuntman since 1999, Little has appeared in over 20 films, including Pearl Harbor (2001), Live Free or Die Hard (2007) and Tropic Thunder (2008).  He was a Screen Actors Guild Award nominee for his work in 2009’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

Once asked by Matt Warshaw if he ever feared drowning, Brock said: “People think that would be one of the worst ways to die, but it isn’t. I was held underwater so long one time last year that after a while everything went black and these red dots were going off in the blackness. Then I went from fighting — I never panic, I fight; there’s a big difference — to just relaxing. And after a while I just swam up. So I realized that if I die underwater, I’ll die relaxed. I’m not worried about it that much. If I die surfing, people shouldn’t feel bad.”

Warshaw also asked if he had some kind of death wish.
“No, not at all. It’s just that if I get myself into a radical experience—getting in a fight, or driving fast, or riding a huge wave—and live through it, I’m totally stoked. I don’t mind bleeding. I don’t mind getting held underwater. I’ve walked away from everything that’s happened so far and been better off every time.”