Adriano de Souza’s rags to riches story is perhaps one of the most inspiring in modern competitive surfing. Born in a poor neighborhood in Guarujá, Adriano was the beneficiary of a seven-dollar secondhand surfboard purchased by his brother, Angelo.
Early on, Angelo recognized that there were two paths in the favela – one of drugs and crime, and another of a good positive outlet. When his brother Adriano showed an interest and potential in surfing, Angelo made a point to save up for a board for him. “At the time,” says Angelo, “seven dollars was a lot to us. It was like lunch for a whole week.”
To watch Adriano revisit his past in a recent episode of Red Bull’s Ride to the Roots humanizes the champ in a way that goes beyond a written editorial. We see an entire neighborhood celebrate “Mineirinho’s” homecoming, the house that he grew up in, and the beach, according to his father, he’d walk to every morning at dawn.
Adriano sometimes gets a bad rap, which is unfortunate. Not only is his story poetic, he’s one of the hardest working guys on tour. In the way that he put his head down and surfed until he reached the highest level, so too does he continue to ignore critics and let his surfing do the talking.