To accomplish his dreams of becoming one of the most elite big-wave surfers in the world, Makuakai Rothman had to push himself not just the water, but back on dry land too. Suffering from terrible asthma as a kid, the attacks got so bad at one point he found himself on and off ventilators and taking so many different kinds of medicines and steroids that his body became overweight.
The health issues may have temporarily held Makua back, but true to his warrior spirit, he fought through it all, becoming a stronger, better person in the process.
Raised on the hallowed breaks of the North Shore, Makua gravitated towards big-wave surfing as he discovered a passion for pushing himself in consequential conditions. What he realized in the process was that the big-wave lifestyle forced him to undergo a physical transformation.
Makua was forced to push his lung capacity and breathing techniques in the water, which in turn built up his lung strength to overcome asthma. He got even more fit as he doubled down on his training, eating right and pushing his lungs along with the rest of his body.
"Big-wave surfing is a way of life when you are in Hawaii," Makua explains on the latest installement of "The Lineup" with Dave Prodan. "Some kids just gravitate to it."
By 18 years old, Makua solidified his place in surfing history, winning the 2003 Billabong XXL Award for a 66-foot bomb he snagged at Jaws. Then in 2015, he won the Quiksilver Ceremonial at massive, sketchy Punta Lobos. That victory helped launch him to the Big Wave World Champ that same year.
Today, Makua still charges like a mad dog, but he's also fallen deeply in love with the more gentle side of life. He's a proud father and a talented, heart-felt ukulele player and recording artist, which is helping keep him grounded and centered between swells.
Catch Makua's full story on the Lineup and listen to his positive approach to overcoming adversity and becoming the person you always dreamed you could be.