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“To help sharks… it was worth losing a limb just for that alone. And to help other amputees and kids that are dealing with limb loss, I feel really blessed. If you want to do something, don’t worry about what people tell you. If you think you can do it, just do it.” – Mike Coots

Most would be grateful to simply survive. Many would graciously move forward appreciating the small moments that make the day-to-day. Mike Coots? He wanted more. And not only for himself, but for sharks, including the tiger shark that took his leg.

When he lost his limb, he knew life wouldn’t be the same. And he knew he was lucky to be alive — despite any potential struggles with Stockholm syndrome and life adjusted. Yet he also knew he was beyond fortunate to live in a place where prosthetics and acceptance were readily available. In many regions around the world, those who suffer from limb loss aren’t treated so kindly.

So while Mike would go on to be grateful to have survived, and would appreciate the small moments that make the day-to-day, he would additionally strive to make a difference, standing both tall and proud for those who weren’t so fortunate – from amputees to sharks.

Mike Coots is a surfer. Mike Coots is a survivor. Mike Coots is an advocate. Mike Coots is an ICON.

ICON is The Inertia’s new profile series that highlights inspiring individuals making meaningful contributions to the ocean and outdoor culture. Don’t forget to check out ICON: Alex Gray, the inspired story of a young surfer who lost his older brother to drugs, but vowed to carry his hero’s spirit with him, taking his brother’s legacy to the most dangerous waves on earth.

  • Kama’aina

    Mike is a great ambassador of aloha.

  • drumwell

    This series is the best thing The Inertia has done in a while. Props.

    • Guest


  • RandPaul4Prez

    nice coots

  • Jussi Tarvainen

    Thanks for sharing this story! Most athletes get either PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) or PTG (Post traumatic growth) when they face a major injury.

    PTSD is when a person goes through a traumatic life event and falls into depression and at worst commits a suicide. Traumatic brain injuries are especially prone to negative behavior and mood changes.

    PTG is when someone gets seriously injured, has a close call or some other event that shakes your life and instead of falling to depression you see it as an opportunity.

    These people use the seemingly misfortunate event to propel their life to heights that they probably would never have reached had they not had that injury happen to them.

    During my career as a pro snowboarder I spent over two years in rehab from two major knee injuries, and other smaller ones. My first knee injury at the beginning of my career was one of the best things that happened to me for multitude of reasons.
    It gave me a new perspective to my life. I took eating healthy seriously, I dramatically reduce my use of alcohol and eventually quit all together, I started taking care of my physique seriously by hitting the gym and getting into the best shape of my life.

    As I was recovering from the injury and had fears of getting reinjured I started to look into how I could improve my mental game. Turns out this was to be the secret weapon to my success as an athlete.

    I learned specific techniques how to overcome fear of getting injured, how to get rid of nervousness and second guessing and how to consistently gain more confidence.

    Now when I work from amateurs to Olympic level pro surfers, snowboarders, freerunners and other action sport athletes who are coming out of an injury I know the mental techniques that guarantee that they comeback stronger physically and mentally than before their injury.

    By answering this ridiculously simple question below you can start to repattern your brain to learn how to take advantage of mistakes, failure and misfortunes.

    I encourage you to stretch your brain and write down 100 answers to the question below. It won’t be easy but by the time you are done you will feel like a new person.

    How was X (mistake/failure/misfortune) a good thing?

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