David Byrd

Benefitting Footloose Sailing Association

25-year-old David Byrd was stand-up paddle boarding with his dad on a family vacation in Hawaii when he was brutally attacked by a 12-foot shark and left an amputee. He spent months undergoing countless reconstructive surgeries. It's been over a year since the accident and for the first time David is speaking publicly about his memories of the attack, the conversation he had with his dad in the water that day, why he wasn't afraid of dying, and how he considers himself to be incredibly lucky.

In Today’s Episode

  • First few minutes of the attack

  • Punching a shark in the teeth

  • The moment David’s leg broke off into the shark's body

  • Rescued while his dad floats in the water with circling shark

  • Dancing with death in a rescue chopper

  • New realities of life as an amputee

  • His first time back on the ocean and why he has no fear of sharks

  • The power of gratitude and a positive mindset

Wise Words

  • “I think I read somewhere that you’re supposed to punch the shark, which it turns out, if you can punch a shark on the nose, that’s probably helpful, but the nose is right next to the teeth, so I think I punched the shark right in the teeth. So then my hand is down its throat, and my leg is down its throat.”

  • “I’m in this water that’s a very, very dark red, like a purple, dark purple, and my leg is gone.”

  • “He was telling me it was going to be all right. He was adamant that I was going to make it. He really felt that, he just kept saying, ‘I love you too. You’re going to make it. It’s going to be fine.’”

  • “Parents do this, but I was heavily discounting this, because parents always tell you it’s going to be fine.”

  • “I’m still sure I’m going to die. I felt really bad for the guys had to... I knew some of them before this, and I felt so bad, it’s like ‘Oh, this is going to be really traumatic. You pick up this guy, you’re at work that’s at this nice beach, and you pick up this guy, and he’s going to die in your canoe as you’re paddling him in.’”

  • “I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not going to sugarcoat this. This is really bad. You’re probably not going to make it.”

  • “I was like, I’m going to prove this guy wrong. I’m just going to keep my eyes open and breathe, and prove this guy wrong.”

  • “I think my mom was, at that point, freaking out. But in the way that parents do, where they’re like, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ And then you know that they don’t even think that.”

  • “Everything is harder. And there’s this constant cognitive tax when you’re trying to do anything.”

  • “If you only focus on the fact that I was attacked by a shark, I’m amazingly unlucky. And so I can choose, I have a choice. Do I see my life as incredibly unlucky, or as incredibly lucky? And that’s a choice of how you frame everything, about how you talk about everything, about how you think about everything.”

  • “And if you find yourself in these constant loops of negativity, this sounds so cliché, but you... the universe will probably continue to treat you negatively.”

  • “Where, if you are positive and you think you can do it, and you... it’s not about being naive, ‘oh, I think I can do everything’. It’s realistically, try to find the things that you do actually believe in, that you do think are great, and you focus on those. There’s something about the way that other people react to that, where it just works way better.”

  • “I live life a lot like it could end at any moment.”