Shawn Briley used to scare the shit out of us. In videos he represented all the things that were terrifying about surfing. He toyed with massive surf. Flipped off second reef closeouts. Went left at Waimea and got barreled doing it, all with a joker’s grin and a carefree attitude about the whole thing. He terrified us, sure, but he also enthralled and captivated us. Nothing was more exciting than watching him bomb drop at Pipeline. Leap off building-sized Backdoor. Kamikaze through closeouts and make it. And then, at age 24, seemingly at the peak of a solid pro career, Shawn Briley vanished. From the water. The industry. Eyesight. Everything.
Almost 2o years later we find ourselves sitting in his beautiful home on the North Shore of Oahu, where his lovely wife and three incredibly respectful boys ushered across the hardwood floors immersed in after school activities and homework. Sportscenter idling in the background.
In a rare interview (Part 1 today and Part 2 will be live tomorrow), we speak with Shawn about the surf industry. His surfing family and legacy. And why he made the choice to walk away from it all.