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The Inertia

Watch Billy Kemper surf now and you have to be reminded it wasn’t long ago his entire career and life were in the balance. It was just over two years ago, in fact, when Kemper took a terrifying spill in Morocco that made the entire surf world hold its breath.

“It was some of the best waves I’ve ever seen,” Kemper told The Inertia in 2021. “Points that I didn’t even know existed. With no one around. It was a dream, and on the last day of the trip when everything seemed to be a fairytale ending to the trip of a lifetime, a small mistake led to a fall in a really critical part of a wave that sent me straight into a rock and just completely destroyed the right side of my body, from my lungs to my pelvis, my quad and my whole knee – it put my life into perspective real quick.”

He is still exploring that newfound perspective.

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“When I look back at the last two years, all the pain, all the misery, and all the work became the biggest blessing in disguise,” he says now in BILLY Chapter 7, in an episode that takes a whole new turn along the post-injury road. BILLY has dug deep into every angle of the wipeout that made global headlines back in 2020, and the seventh installment of the series is certainly a poetic moment of redemption for the story’s hero. By returning to the scene of the crime, Kemper hopes to close the book on that whole story, in a sense.

“Are you gonna break your leg again?” his son asks.

“I really don’t want to ever break my hip ever again,” he says. “I’m gonna go get barrelled and have fun.”

Ultimately, Kemper did get his shot at redemption. He made the trip back to Morocco, all the while explaining away and rationalizing that it wasn’t the wave’s fault he ended up as severely hurt as he was. Naturally, his family was hesitant and concerned. But the more Billy has to confront the reality of returning to Morocco, the more it becomes clear he has been wrestling with unfinished business for two years. The trip in 2020 was meant to be the trip of a lifetime with some of the best waves Kemper had ever surfed — something he’d found before everything took a turn for the worst.

Ironically, Kemper’s first session back in Morocco didn’t satiate his appetite for redemption. So he stayed and waited for a second swell.

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“I was stuck in this place where I needed to go back and surf that place the same way I surfed it the time before. The same way it was when I got hurt. I wanted to feel what it was like to be back out there. As much as that was scaring me, I realized there’s nothing to hide from.”

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