The surfing world lost one of its legends Friday when Albert "Rabbit" Kekai died at Leahi Hospital on Oahu at the age of 95.
Rabbit was one of Duke Kahanamoku's original proteges, and he made a name for himself as one of Hawaii's premier longboard riders. He's sometimes credited as the grandfather of nose-riding.
An outpouring of love for the Waikiki legend flooded social media streams.
Kelly Slater (@kellyslater): RabbitKekai...you will be sorely missed by our clan after almost 96 years on this planet. Thank you for the friendship and the many laughs and smiles. A true legend who had something good to say or an inside joke for almost every single person he came in contact with. #LordTallyHoBlears and Rabbit were staples at the #TripleCrown events on the #NorthShore forever. He told me he learned Japanese to hit on the tourist girls in Waikiki as a #BeachBoy. For a time #UncleRabbit was said to be the best surfer on earth. I was lucky enough to share a couple sessions at #Queens and #Canoes with him and #DocPaskowitz together in the early 2000's. One of the last surfers to truly watch the entirety of our surfing lineage, we've been blessed to have guys like Rabbit pass along their history and stoke to untold generations of guys who came after them. #WhatMoreCanISayIWouldntBeHereTodayIfTheOldSchoolDidntPaveTheWay
Brad Gerlach (@bradgerlach): Every time I checked in for a heat in hawaii he would tell me a joke. I loved this guy. Hope you are surfing and making everyone laugh wherever you are Rabbit. RIP
Tim Reyes (@timmyreyes):: Thank you uncle "Rabbit" for being there during all my surfing events I have competed in on the North Shore through the years and thank you for showing all of us non Hawaiians respect and true "Aloha". I will miss you speaking to me in pigeon how crazy the waves are and how lucky we are to surf the waves. Thank you "Rabbit" I know we are lucky we live, and lucky we live the life that past pioneers and legends would dream of. I dedicate this year to you and your family. #respect #aloha #pioneer #legend
Makuakai Rothman (@makuarothman): Aloha uncle... Miss u love u... Thank you for all the knowledge you have given to me, all the days I got my jersey and u told me to go get um. Surf with u again in heaven one day. I will continue to spread the aloha around the world just like you did. U will be Surfing with all the legends, tell Andy, Sion, uncle Kealoha kaeo Aunty Reli, buttons and Bradded IZ makua says aloha! Aloha Pau ole... #uncleRabbit
Aaron Gold (@therealaarongold): Aloha A Hui Hou uncle Rabbit, Mahalo Nui Loa for paving the way*
Dusty Payne (@dusty_payne): rest in paradise uncle Rabbit. always would tell me some sort of off the charts joke every time he handed me a jersey so I'd always go into the ocean with a big smile on my face for every heat #OriginalBeachBoy #ThankYouUncleRabbit*
Tom Carrol (@thomasvictorcarroll): R.I.P. Rabbit Kekai Your remembered in each and every cell, my heart and my should. Year after year you were there offering me tips on current conditions as I picked up my competition jersey for the Pipeline Masters, Sunset World Cup & Haleiwa Pro - a Triple Crown of Surfing fixture. Like the hand of Hawaii being passed on I drew closer for the wisdom and listened. I can hear your voice now... much Aloha and many many Mahalos
Luke Egan (@lukeegan): Uncle Rabbit. You handed me my contest jersey for the first time in my Hawaiian competitive surfing career. Uncle Rabbit. You handed me my last contest jersey in my Hawaiian competitive surfing career. You were part of every heat I had for over 20 years Uncle Rabbit, thank you for being there. R I P you will be remembered way past your life time. #hawaiianlegend
Taylor Knox (@taylor_knox): Rabbit... Thank you for your commitment to the sport of kings... You are king...*