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The Life And Murder Of Brazilian Surf-Superstar, Ricardo Dos Santos

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The Life And Murder Of Brazilian Surf-Superstar, Ricardo Dos Santos

One January morning, 2015, Ricardo dos Santos, a rising Brazilian surf star, was shot dead outside of his home. 

He was 24. 

The man who murdered Ricardo was an off-duty police officer, he was drunk at the time, and in December of 2016, after claiming self-defense, was sentenced to 22-years in prison for the crime.  

Today, is Ricardo’s birthday. 

He would be 28. 

Ricardo, as a surfer, was known for his utter fearlessness. He was the first Brazilian to truly put their stamp on Pipeline. He inspired the likes of John Florence and Kelly Slater to swing with ambition at Teahupoo. 

He was a friend, a nephew, and a son. 

In 2016, Stab traveled to Brazil in an attempt to discover how such a heinous crime could occur with shocking ease, what Ricardo’s death meant to surfing, and to Brazil.  

“Every time there’s a trials event at Teahupoo,” Adriano de Souza told Stab, “it will be impossible not to think of him. Every time the wave are serious, I remember him. It feels like his name is written on Fiji, Teahupoo and Pipeline.”  

“It was something very unexpected,” World Tour rookie, and fellow Brazilian, Yago Dora, told Stab reflecting on his death years later. “No one could believe the way it happened. It had a big impact on how aware we have to be about our attitudes in a dangerous country.”  

“[If he were living right now] he would be wherever the best lefthand barrel is breaking at the moment,” continued Yago. “Ricardo was intense. He had infinite energy. He made every single day worth three.” 

“Ricardo’s death had a big impact on the surf community,” countryman and CT surfer, Miguel Pupo, told Stab in reflection. “What happened to him, unfortunately, is a reality in our country. People are killing each other for no reason and somehow someone else’s life doesn’t mean much anymore. 

Obviously, it doesn’t happen every five minutes like people think, but it does happen and I didn’t really notice it ‘till it affected someone I knew. Now we know that it's better to avoid any kind of trouble because you never know if someone has a gun and what his judgment about killing someone is. 

It was a fatality and it’s really sad that it happened to someone like him.”

"Ricardo was the leader and still is of a generation," continued Miguel. "They followed JJF or Andy’s footsteps, guys that were good in the small stuff and even better when it comes to eight-foot plus faces. You can see some of that in guys like Marco Giorgi, Jerónimo Vargas, Lucas Silveira and even Lucas Chumbo. He left a legacy and no one will forget him.”

The above is an investigative piece directed by Beren Hall. It dives deep into the murder of Ricardo dos Santos, and the lives the man from Santa Catarina, Brazil touched in his short time on this earth. 

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