Yesterday morning, when we learned Mick Fanning’s older brother had passed away in his sleep, we posted an article in support of Mick’s fourth world title campaign at maxing Pipeline. In it, we wrote: “Everything's hanging in the balance. An entire year of competitive surfing — of too-early mornings, of barbaric training sessions, of 27-hour long travel days, of homesickness, of the waves suck but I'm surfing anyway, of tough heats, of tough losses, of annoying interviews, of foreign illnesses. And, for Mick, a shark attack.”
We outwardly pledged our support for Mick because we truly think he’s one of the greatest people to ever walk this earth, and because we wanted to see him rewarded at the end of a tumultuous year. Because this year, more than ever, Mick’s been talked about and scrutinized. He's been prodded and poked. But his attitude throughout it all has made him one of the most revered surfers of 2015, and he’s made more fans this year than at any other point in his career. And he deserves every one of them.
But after today (and really, all along), Adriano De Souza does, too. Because just as Mick has a good story, a sad story, a story of redemption and a story that pulls on our heartstrings — so does Adriano. He comes from a favela in Brazil and he’s fought and clawed his way for everything he's ever had. Nothing has ever come easy.
He arrived in Hawaii a month ago knowing he was probably going to have to win at Pipe to win the World Title. At a wave where he's never finished better than 9th. Win. At Pipe. Something no other Brazilian has ever done.
And that’s exactly what he did today.
A month back he enlisted the help of Pipe Master Jamie O’Brien and told him he’d “sleep on his doorstep” if he’d just allow him the chance to stay at his house. He paddled out at Pipe everyday at first light. Everyday. And leading up to this morning, he'd beaten Jack Robinson, Glenn Hall and Adam Melling en route to the quarterfinals.
A few hours ago, when he advanced to the Semi’s over Josh Kerr to keep his World Title and Pipe Masters hopes alive, he spoke of his love for Mick and Mick’s family. You could see in his eyes that the prospect of winning today — the culmination of everything he’s worked for in his career — was bittersweet because it meant taking something from a friend. If that doesn't say everything about Adriano, we're not sure what does.
But as he should’ve, he put his feelings for Mick away and went out and took what he deserved. What he'd been working for and dreaming about his entire life. And even after wrapping up the world title with a victory over Mason Ho in Semi 2, he paddled out against 2014 World Champ and 2015 Vans Triple Crown champ Gabriel Medina in the final and kept his foot firmly on the gas.
And so, 2015 will end with Adriano de Souza on top of the surfing world. The World Champ. The Pipe Masters champ.
And, really, he should be The Peoples Champ, too.