I have a picture of Andy Irons saved on my iPhone. It was taken shortly after what was likely his final surf, and certainly his last in a contest vest – an inglorious loss to Kai Otton in Round Two of the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Portugal. The picture shows him reclined in a chair, sharing a joke with Kelly Slater. He wears a red t-shirt and dark blue jeans with the legs rolled up. His tanned feet rest on the event scaffolding and his head is thrown back as he laughs, eyes hidden behind the dark facade of his sunglasses.
Just days later he was dead. Cause of death: Cardiac arrest resulting from acute mixed drug ingestion.