RIP Brock Little

Hawaiian big-wave legend passes away from cancer at the age of 48

| posted on February 18, 2016

It’s with a heavy heart that we report the passing of North Shore surfer Brock Little, who died on February 18, at the age of 48. Little announced via social media last month that he was battling advanced cancer.

Born in 1967 in Napa, California, Little’s family moved to Haleiwa when he was three years old and he began surfing at age seven. As a teenager, Little was considered to be one of the most talented and hardest-charging surfers of his era and was a stalwart figure at Waimea and Mavericks. In 1986, at only 19 years old, he finished fourth in the Eddie event, solidifying his reputation as being utterly fearless. Just a few years later, in 1990, he finished second in the prestigious contest, amid some of the most harrowing conditions ever seen in the competition.

“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,” wrote Matt Warshaw in the Encyclopedia of Surfing.

While he would continue his search for massive surf in the coming decades, Little also began a career as a stuntman, appearing in numerous Hollywood films including Tropic Thunder, Training Days, and Transformers, just to name a few.

He was also a prolific contributor to both SURFER and Surfing magazines, penning more than 30 articles.

When he first announced that he was battling cancer via his Instagram account nearly a month ago, the surf world rallied around the icon. When news broke today that Little had passed, Kelly Slater wrote that Little was “Larger than life to me. The world I know will never be the same. I love you, man. Thank you…”

Even as Little’s health deteriorated, he still kept in high spirits and was very open about his condition. A few weeks ago, he gave his final interview with SURFER, where he discussed a life spent chasing heavy waves and his thoughts on his legacy in the surf world.

In Little’s last public statement, which appeared on his Instagram account yesterday, he wrote that he was “Lucky to be surrounded by love.”

Little was a true legend in the sport and will be greatly missed.

  • SBRules

    Beautiful tribute.

  • Rest in Peace Brock

    Condolence to Brock’s family & friends. Aloha Brock may you find beautiful waves in your new journey.

  • tum kritcher

    what kind of cancer ? did he ignore symptoms early on ? RIP Brock.

    • caroleann2

      I know everyone wants to think that you just have to be aware of symotoms, catch it early and you’ll be able to beat it but it doesn’t really work that way. Some cancers are so deadly and fast growing that you simply don’t stand a chance. Others are so slow growing that you can literally do nothing and die of old age before the cancer would kill you. Some have no early symptoms at all nor any diagnostic tests and by the time you get symptoms, you’re too late. Bottom line, cancer sucks.

      • tum kritcher

        yes you are right. I did learn he had liver cancer which explains the rapid loss of weight and quick the question is did he have hepatitis C ? was he a heavy drinker ? or perhaps he lacerated his liver surfing wipe out or dirt bike wipe out?
        this is not to cast him in a negative light..just wonder. I lost my twin sister to liver cnacer..she had lacerated her liver..then hep C.

        • Tracy

          I also lost my twin sister at the age of 46 to a rare type of liver cancer called Fibrolamellar HCC and she also lived on the North Shore. Curious to know if it was the same kind. My heart goes out to his family and friends. God Bless you Brock…RIP

          • tum kritcher

            if brock was not a heavy drinker or did not have hep C, then no doubt there is an envirnmental hazard near where he lived in hawaii.

          • michelle

            Seriously? So two people that you know of that lived in the same area pass away from the same disease…and this draws the conclusion “no doubt there is an environmental hazard near where he lived in Hawaii”? Come on, please don’t be ignorant.
            Also, this is about Brock…not about what kind of lifestyle he had, when he was diagnosed, if he chose to medically treat the cancer, or if he had any other medical diagnoses. Its disrespectful and rude to even ask these questions.

    • Tim Nelsen


  • Lombongin
    • Lombongin

      Brock Little came to Ireland sometime in the mid-late 90’s with a crew from Surfer magazine, or maybe the “other” one I can’t remember. A bunch of pros and photogs, they played pool and knocked back a few pints of Guinness in my Grandfathers bar nightly, Brock even poured a few pints of the black stuff behind the counter. Out of all the crew it was Brock that people wanted to be around, to listen to and talk to, and it wasn’t all surf talk either; he had time for everyone he met, and always a big smile. I know two weeks isn’t enough time to say you know a person, but it was plenty time enough to realise what a happy, genuine, and sweet person he was. Peace and condolences to his family.

      • RichNWhite

        Thanks for sharing this.

        RIP Brock. The oceans of the world will miss you.


    Very Sad. Another Lost Hero… Lost Legend, but always remembered. Bye Brock.

  • Dr. Herby Bell

    Sadness abounds. Thank you for doing what only you could do, Brock.

  • Cynthia

    Thank you, for the nice tribute.

  • Riskmgr

    so sad to hear of his passing …a true man of courage..RIP

  • tunafacialistic

    God Bless this legendary waterman and inspiration…God bless the Little family.

  • Thomas DeSoto

    I’ll never forget traveling with Brock Little through Ireland, when suddenly we turned the corner and came face to face with machine gun toting soldiers from the Irish Republican Army’s who had set up a road block in the middle of nowhere,… We were all scared except for Brock who quickly made friends with the General in charge, who ordered his troops who surrounded us, hiding in the bushes with machine guns to stand down. Next thing I knew I was shooting pictures with these soldiers and joking around laughing, all because of the legendary watermen Brock Little.

  • Peter rayner

    I was a very average surfer in 1992 who travelled to Hawaii and surfed with Brock at large Haleiwa. I watched in awe as Brock played with the waves. It’s one of my great memories of surfing to say I saw him surf in the line up with only a handful in the line up. RIP

  • Jonjon Taka

    This is sad news. I met broke during my first year in college. He was lifeguarding near Rockpiles – Log Cabins on the North Shore and I was walking around with a short board looking for a place to surf. It was 15 foot Hawaiian, Waimea was breaking, a few guys at second reef pipe, and just a giant mess of white water and loud deadly shore dump at Rock Pile. I went to the lifeguard tower and to my surprise, it was Broke Little, the Hawaiian big wave legend!

    As this was my first or second winter on the north-shore, with no big wave experience prior to that, I didn’t understand how people could surf those giant waves. Were they human? Would I have to build up my strength and stamina to join them in the line up one day? This was me as a teenager wondering what it took to surf those waves.

    I thank Broke Little for opening up my mind and in the process, helping me start surfing bigger waves each winter season. While I looked at the massive waves at Rock-piles, with no one out, Broke Little told me I should go out and try to hold on to the rocks at the bottom, that it was good training. I was certain he was joking, but he said he would save me if I got in trouble. Then he said something that changed my perspective: “Surfing is all in your mind. You have to be strong in your mind”.

    As simple as it may sound, that did it for me…. So thank you Broke for opening up my mind and for the years of enjoyment it gave me surfing waves I could not have imagined surfing otherwise.

    • Rick Steven Marchetti

      You must have been great friends with Brock, no one else could ever call him Broke.

      • Jonjon Taka

        Good point! Though I don’t think sarcasm should be mixed with paying homage to a fellow surfer.

  • Cody

    Aloha Brock!

  • NinjaDogma

    I just learned of Brock’s passing while watching the closing credits of Hawaii Five-0. The good ones are always taken from us way too soon.

  • henry arteaga

    Rest in piece always was my favorite surfer. I’m just a guy from Passaic NJ stated surfing latter than most 22, ..always wanted to but live hour in a half from the beach,, no car. Remember getting my first surf mag in a sporting goods store and it was Brocks barrel at the Eddie. I looked at that mag for years, brought a board same color as his and watched my favorite vid of his that I recorded on tv from his adventure to Easter Island with Laird and scoring big time.. He was a hero to a kook from Jersey a million miles away. Thank you Sir..

  • Jan Mcintire

    Watched Hawaii 5/0 & saw the credits sorry to Brock s family!Surf on!!!!!!

  • John Treanor UK

    RIP….. Free to surf the waves in the sky… God be with you Brock