I have the opportunity to meet many amazing people in the course of doing my job. And I take very seriously the fact that these people trust me with telling their stories. I like to joke that my Superpower is the ability to write one story and–presto!–pass their stories along to millions of readers.
I’ve never felt such a responsibility as I did a few weeks ago, when I met up with four-time world surfing champion Steph Gilmore while she was here in Los Angeles.
A few months ago, before the start of the 2011 season, Steph was home in Coolangatta, New South Wales, Australia celebrating the holidays with her family. While there, she was attacked outside of her apartment building by a man the police believe was squatting in an abandoned house across the street. In the months since the attack, Steph’s body has healed. But she has struggled with nightmares, flashbacks and a loss of focus and confidence in the water as well as on land.
A few weeks ago, after fielding many interview requests, Steph decided to tell her story once, for now. She decided to open up and honestly talk about how hard it has been to heal from the emotional trauma of an attack. I felt privileged to tell her story. During a nearly four-hour dinner, she said she hopes that by telling her story–which is a sort of therapy in itself–she can help another woman either avoid a similar situation or heal from one. I think that is exactly what she did. She is truly one of the most courageous and amazing women I’ve had the privilege of getting to know.
And man, is she fun to watch surf.
To read the story I wrote for ESPN The Magazine, click HERE.
To read a longer version of my interview with Steph on ESPN.com/action, click HERE.