The Tragic Death Of Surfing Champion Kalani David

Former junior surfing champion Kalani David has died at 24-years-old, per E! News. According to the outlet, the Hawaii native suffered from Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome – a condition that causes irregular heartbeats and periodic seizures. David passed away after reportedly having a seizure during his surf. News of the athlete's death was also confirmed by his friend, photographer Peter King, who shared a touching tribute to Kalani on social media.

"Kalani passed away in Costa Rica today, he had a massive seizure while surfing," King confirmed on Instagram, adding, "I'll always remember your stoke when we'd shoot skate n surf and how much hope you had for you future."

David had seemingly been an athlete his entire life. His X Games profile makes mention of his triumphant surfing career, which includes a 2012 International Surfing Association World Junior Championship in the 16 and under category. There's no doubt that David lived his life to the fullest, despite facing a magnitude of health complications.

Kalani David had several health scares

Kalani David had to overcome myriad medical scares in his career, which have never dampened his athletic aspirations. According to Beach Grit, the surfer had his first serious seizure while skateboarding in August 2016. A few weeks later, David had another series of seizures but was left unattended. The outlet reports that after seizing for several hours, a friend rushed David to the hospital. Following the incident, the athlete was placed in a medically induced coma for two days. David eventually underwent open-heart surgery, but his medical problems didn't end there.

In June 2022, David revealed that he was directed by his doctors to avoid surfing again, as the frequency of his seizures had increased. "With these seizures I keep having my neurologist said no driving and no surfing until I stop having them," David shared on Instagram. "I mean I could surf but, if I was to have one and don't get saved in time I'll either die or become a vegetable because I don't have enough air to my brain."

David went on to explain that he felt "lucky" to be alive after experiencing several extremely frightening incidents. He revealed that he recently suffered seizures while driving, surfing, and even sleeping. He ended his caption by thanking his fans for their continued support and promised a victorious return to the water.

Tributes are pouring in for Kalani David

Following Kalani David's death, fans have taken to social media to share tributes to the decorated surfer. His younger brother, Keoni, was one of the first to comment on the athlete's death — sharing a touching message on his Instagram Story. "You are the best brother I could ever ask for. I will miss you Kalani," Keoni wrote (via New York Post). Furthermore, many of David's fans have also expressed their grief over the surfer's sudden death. "WPW is a horrible disease. God Bless all those effected," one fan tweeted. While another wrote, "At least he went doing what he loved. RIP Kalani."

David's stepmom, Andrea David, has also created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the athlete's repatriation. According to the fundraiser, David's body is being stored at a morgue in San Jose, Costa Rica, but his family is hoping to transport his body to Florida — in order to bury him next to other deceased relatives. "I honestly believe Kalani would prefer Hawaii but that seems an impossibility right now," wrote his mother. She went on to explain that she would love nothing more than to be able to visit his grave regularly. As of this writing, David's family has raised over $18,000 of their $34,000 goal.

David was a determined athlete

Kalani David's love for surfing and skating never wavered, even amid his ongoing health struggles. A 2016 profile by Stab Magazine outlined David's early career achievements, which included scoring higher than famed skateboarders Bob Burnquist and Bucky Lasek at the Dew Tour's Bowl Series. During the same interview, David made a brash declaration about his love for competing, reemphasizing his love for sports. "If it was life or death, and I had to choose skating or surfing, I'd choose death," he boldly told the publication.

David continued to be a leader in surfing throughout his career. In 2019, the Hawaiian athlete had a near perfect score in the Red Bull Airborne Series. And while David was hailed as the show-stealing performer from the event, he finished 2nd -– behind Brazilian pro surfer Yago Dora. David was officially diagnosed with Wolf Parkinson-White Syndrome in 2016, and regularly kept fans updated on his health through his social media accounts.