Kalani David's tragic death at 24 leaves surfing world devastated

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Kalani David, pictured here in action in the World Surfing League in 2019.
Kalani David in action in the World Surfing League in 2019. Image: Getty

The sporting world is mourning the tragic death of 24-year-old American surfer and skateboarder Kalani David.

Surfing news site The Inertia reported on Monday night that David was training off the coast of Costa Rica when he suffered a seizure and died.

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The 24-year-old star suffered from a condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which causes a very fast heartbeat - referred to as tachycardia.

The condition affects between one and three people in every 1000 globally, but isn't usually dangerous.

“The biggest risk is for sudden death from a heart attack, which tachycardia can cause. However, this is extremely rare, occurring in less than one-half of one per cent of cases,” according to John Hopkins Medicine.

David competed professionally in both surfing and skateboarding, with tributes flooding in from around the sporting world.

Surfing legend Kelly Slater wrote on Instagram: “Kalani was one of the most talented surfer/skater on Earth, constantly pushing the limits every time he was on his feet.

"Condolences to the huge community of friends Kalani had coast to coast and across the globe”.

Kalani David, pictured here during the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters.
Kalani David looks on during the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters. (Photo by Tony Heff/WSL via Getty Images)

Photographer Patrick Eichstaedt wrote: “I met you when you were 6 lil brother and knew you were a special human being with some of the most raw talent I had ever seen. I’m so grateful our journey’s crossed.

"My heart goes out to all the family and the world of friends you had. Seeing you earlier this year was truly special and I will cherish all our memories.

"My son still wears your hat and we will keep it forever bud! Fly high and stay stoked my man."

Fellow photographer Peter King wrote: “Oh man. Love you Kalani. Only God knows His timing. Life isn’t easy. Always battling. Always Learning. Heartbreaking News. Kalani passed away in Costa Rica today, he had a massive seizure while surfing.

“He had re-connected with family there and was having such a great time. I’ll always remember how much hope you had for [your] future. God Bless the family and extended family that were always there for you.”

Mick Fanning pays tribute to Kalani David

Aussie surfing legend Mick Fanning added: “Far out that’s heartbreaking.

“He was a great kid. That’s really sad. I remember him coming round to our Red Bull house in Hawaii as a 12-year-old and I was cooking a barbecue.

“Gave him some food and he automatically did the dishes without having to ask, but was classic at that age.

“He’d come check in most nights to see what was on for dinner, hoping it was another barbecue - haha always enjoyed chatting to him.”

Kalani David, pictured here with Jack Freestone and Eric Geiselman in 2019.
Kalani David (R) with Jack Freestone of Australia and Eric Geiselman of the United States in 2019. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/World Surf League via Getty Images)

According to The Inertia, David previously had a seizure in 2016 when he was skating in Oceanside, California.

He had surgery in 2017 to remove additional muscle that had developed around his heart, which led to the seizures.

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