Co-Editor/Photographer, Aladdin Surf Mag

Editor’s Note: This INSPIRED feature is supported by our good friends at Cobian, reminding us that Every Step Matters. INSPIRED is an ongoing series where we feature uplifting stories from individuals harnessing the restorative power of the ocean and outdoors.

Anybody who’s fallen in love with the ocean knows that time spent away from it can be painful. A flat spell leads to two weeks with no waves. A career change and a move away from the coast makes you homesick for salty air and sand.

But what if the ability to even walk into the water or stand up on a wave was all of the sudden physically impossible? That can be an entirely different level of heartbreak.


In 2007, Robb Wilson underwent artificial disk replacement surgery that went awry. A lifetime of surfing and snowboarding and a degenerative disk disease led him to the operating table but when it was all said and done, a misstep during surgery is what changed his life forever. He couldn’t walk. He was put on debilitating painkillers.

“See, I didn’t go to the ocean for about two years,” he says. “I was extremely heartbroken because I wasn’t surfing.”

Seeing no future for himself, he was even ready to take his own life.


“I knew where I was going to go. I was going to blow my head off at a beach where I’d started surfing because that’s where my life kinda began.”

Eventually, all it took was an encouraging nudge from a friend, a camera, and a waterproof housing to get Robb back into the ocean. This is his story. And it’s pretty powerful.


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