In life and in competition Mick has faced some monumental hurdles. In 1998, at 16, his career was just taking off when his older brother Sean was killed in a car accident. Sean was just 18 at the time and was also an aspiring pro surfer. Sean and Mick often spoke about doing the tour together and challenging each other and the best surfers in the world for a title. Although he was completely heartbroken after the death of his brother Mick stayed true to their dream and continued on his rise as a professional surfer.
In 2002 Mick finished in the top five in his rookie year on the ASP World Tour and was moving closer to the number one spot each season when in 2004 tragedy struck again. While on a photo trip to Indonesia Mick tore his hamstring off the bone when he fell trying to execute a critical maneuver. Doctors were unsure whether he would ever fully recover. To repair the horrific tear Mick underwent major surgery. A steel grappling hook was drilled into a bone in the back of his leg to hold his hamstring in place. After six months of intense rehabilitation Mick was finally able to get back on a surfboard again.
A committed training regime saw Mick miraculously return to form and start winning events once again. Although he recovered well from the career threatening injury one of his greatest challenges was still ahead of him. For 15 years Kelly Slater has dominated professional surfing. He is, quite simply, the greatest surfer of all time. Since Kelly won his first world title in 1992 no Australian had beaten him for the World Title. In 2007 Mick changed that. After winning the first event Mick put together one of the most impressive competitive seasons of all time. He won three events, finished runner-up in one and made four semi finals.
In 2008 he struggled with the extra media attention of being a world champion and suffered a mid-season groin injury. He slipped to eighth position on the end of year ratings.
In 2009 Mick Fanning again set his sights firmly on the number one position but had, by his standards, a mediocre start and seemed out of the race in seventh position halfway through the tour schedule. Meanwhile Mick’s close mate Joel Parkinson had raced ahead on the ratings and had what many people thought, including Mick, was an insurmountable lead.
However, halfway through 2009 Joel injured his ankle. Although he continued to compete Mick sensed an opportunity to fight his way back into contention. A win at Trestles was the beginning of an amazing roll and Mick went on to also claim victory in France and Portugal, moving him to the top of the ratings.
Heading into the Pipeline Masters, the final event of 2009, Joel and Mick were the last remaining title contenders. When Joel was eliminated in Round 3 of the contest Mick became World Champ for the second time and had pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history.