Remembering Tyson Williams - interview and video

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

screen_shot_2016-08-29_at_11.36.01_am.pngThroughout the 90s he was the kid on the side of the Milo tin. Sitting atop a BMX, standing on a surfboard, laying on a bodyboard, Tyson Williams got the gig 'cos he could do it all. Competitively he followed the bodyboard circuit but he remained equally committed to stand up surfing and chased big waves all around the world.

Last week Tyson Williams took his own life, aged 36. His death shook up a lot of people, as expected of someone who'd travelled and made friends everywhere he went. In the wake of the news a common refrain was seen on social media: Why? He seemed to have it all: looks, success, charm, talent.

Tyson's younger brother Cooper spoke to Swellnet about the life they shared and the demons that never ever let up.

Looking up
He bodyboarded and surfed so I bodyboarded and surfed. I was five years younger so I followed him...that's what younger brothers do! He went on the bodyboard pro tour so I did the Australian tour and tried to make the world tour too, but I wasn’t as good as him. Tys could do anything.

Doing it all
He was one of the first to crossover surfing and bodyboarding, and he was really good at both. He could do anything really: BMX, swimming, surfing, anything he wanted to do he was good at. A freak.

Teahupoo
There's been a lot of recent footage of Tyson from Teahupoo, but I can remember him attacking it years ago. I remember he was in a bodyboard magazine on a wave that was soooo big...he got this thing that was ridiculous and it shocked everyone.

He always had something going on out there on that reef. He's always been a madman. Afterwards we'd have these chats about fear, like. “How is it you go these ridiculously scary waves? What does it take to turn and go 'cause I get scared just watching you.”

He'd just laugh and say “We're just different Coop.”

Deadmans
We had a few sessions out there but one comes straight to mind. He made me come out with him and I was so scared. I said it was 15' and Tys agreed with me so it must have been 15'. He only got one wave and I watched the whole time, and then he told me he was completely satisfied with that simply because of how crazy and big it was and how close we were to it.

We've shared great waves all around the world. We shared a lot of good surfs. He always took me under his wing, took me to a lot of secret spots.

The Black Dog
We knew he was depressed, all his family and friends. I'd always been open about that but tried not to tell too many people just because he was kind of embarrassed about it. He didn't ever want people doing things for him. Tys could always do it, he didn't want to put people out. He could handle it.

It's really difficult to know what to do and how to do it. I wasn't really sure. I always tried to get him to open up to me and tell me whatever he needed to but it was difficult for him to do that as an older brother. He was protective of me, even if not himself.

Family life
Our father was an intense and manipulative human. Basically when you look at drug dealers, the world they're involved in....that was our Dad's world and he brought that home. He was a gnarly guy that no-one would fuck with and a lot of people were scared of.

Tyson had seen things that people shouldn't see. We'd cry ourselves to sleep not knowing what was going to happen to us.

...and the damage done
Psychologists worked out that Tys had this depression since he was about five. They called it post-traumatic stress and figured it was because of our upbringing .

R U OK?
He saw so many psychologists, he did so many things. And that's the really hard part, its not like he was stubborn and didn't want professional help. He just didn't want to burden other people. We knew but he tried to hide it from a lot of people. That makes it difficult: we wanted everyone to know so they could help, but we also didnt want to betray Tys because he didn't want everyone to know.

Strength
He fought for 31 years. He fought it every single day. He's the strongest human I know.

The ripples
I spinout when I hear about people around the world who say they went heli-skiiing with Tys, hiking, wakeboarding, or surfing. He was such a large character, a talented freak: good at bodyboarding, good at surfing, good at golf, good at canoeing, and a really, really good person, you know. He touched so many people around the world. 


Video edit by Tim Bonython

Comments

wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443 commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 11:55am

Geebuzz, cooper, i don't know you, nor never knew ya brother... Thoughts go out to you n ya family, friends. Fuck. It must be hard for you all, knowing he had the demon depression, trying to help but also, keeping his confidence, but this end to his life. Sheesh. Thoughts go out to you. Heavy shit. Fuck.

Surfboard Design and Construction Kook. Evidence is here: www.ffwsurfboards.com.au
*FFW - Few Fun Waves ... that's what it's all about for me.

the-spleen_2's picture
the-spleen_2's picture
the-spleen_2 commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 12:19pm

Far out. Love your kids, hug your brothers.

50young's picture
50young's picture
50young commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 12:20pm

RIP brother

tonybarber's picture
tonybarber's picture
tonybarber commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 12:42pm

A very respectful homage. Seems he loved the water. Seems he had no fear. Seems the sea was his sanctuary. A quality trait. Our sincere condolences to Cooper and family. RIP.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 12:43pm

Cooper I have struggled with it as well from time to time and it is really horrible. Really awful and he shouldn't have been embarrassed about it. I find the more people you tell the better. It is a disease just like any other except it affects your brain. I hope he tried the range of medication out there before he went down that very dark path. The WSL (supposedly the peak body of the sport) never mentions health issues like these and it should. It is piss poor when compared to sports like the AFL and there seems to me to be a view that taking Coke is fine but an SSRI isn't. Go figure that. Look at Andy Irons and what the rumours were saying was Bi Polar. The WSL should have used him as a symbol of what not to do rather than covering it up and keep saying he was a hero. Great surfer but obviously very troubled individual. Really sorry for your loss.

t-diddy's picture
t-diddy's picture
t-diddy commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 1:16pm

this disease doesn't want you to talk or be around people but that is EXACTLY what you have to do!! open your mouth boys and you'll feel better! Super sad! condolences to the family, esp little bro. Charging!

Tarzan71's picture
Tarzan71's picture
Tarzan71 commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 2:29pm

depression is such a dark place, I know, I've been there. Worst of all is talking about it feels like stepping off a cliff and the drugs (illicit or prescription) only ended up making mine worse.
we all need to ask our friends and family "R U OK" if they seem down or unsettled but as Cooper has said, most will prefer to clam up.

wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443 commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 3:57pm

Mate, same for many, the prescribed anti depressants do not work for everyone. See me post below with more details ...

Surfboard Design and Construction Kook. Evidence is here: www.ffwsurfboards.com.au
*FFW - Few Fun Waves ... that's what it's all about for me.

mcsc's picture
mcsc's picture
mcsc commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 2:58pm

If you or anyone you know needs help:

Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
Headspace on 1800 650 890

wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443 commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 3:58pm

All great resources. Further reading, info in my post below ...

Surfboard Design and Construction Kook. Evidence is here: www.ffwsurfboards.com.au
*FFW - Few Fun Waves ... that's what it's all about for me.

scoop's picture
scoop's picture
scoop commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 3:21pm

Excuse me while while I kiss the sky. What a powerful final sequence. Great work Tim Bonython, RIP Tyson Williams.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 3:30pm

RIP Tyson.

Sad loss.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 3:47pm

Fuck reading that gave me goosebumps.
Sounds like the kind of guy every guy wants to be.
RIP

wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443 commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 4:17pm

OK, here goes ...

I'm NOT a Doctor, nor health 'expert'. I'm just someone with an active interest in how our brains work, what causes the mood disorders like depression, and what we can do about it without the pharmaceutical type drugs most doctors prescribed. Personal interest drove me to learning a fair bit about it....

Also, PLEASE NOTE, if ya taking anti depressants, don't just STOP. Get guidance from ya doc, and if needed, see a new doc who understand this stuff more. For that, my $0.02 worth is, find a doc who is into "Nutritional and Environmental" medicine. ACNEM are the peak Australian body for doc's and the like to join if they are more inclined to that style of treating people.

https://www.acnem.org/

OK, so, the keys and links ...

First, understand that the brain needs chemical and energy to function. It uses things called "neurotransmitters", one of which is called Serotonin which is the one usually linked with Depression. When it's too low, or the brain can't use it, that's where the negative mood starts to creep in ... others are needed too, to produce the Serotonin and to help the brain function. It's a complex system.

Second, to get enough of the energy needed, and the production correct, our bodies need the correct fuels. There is LOT in this whole process. To get you started, have a read of this article, called "Depression is a disease of energy production"

http://www.hypoglycemia.asn.au/2013/depression-is-a-disease-of-energy-pr...

Now, finally, if ANY OTHER energy production functions in our bodies are not working, or we are missing some minerals or elements etc for our body to use to make the neurotransmitters, well, they just don't get made, or not enough get made.

One of the BIG ones for Depression, is Zinc. Studies have now proven that Zinc supplementation works. See here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3796297/

Hope that helps ... someone, somewhere, someday.

Surfboard Design and Construction Kook. Evidence is here: www.ffwsurfboards.com.au
*FFW - Few Fun Waves ... that's what it's all about for me.

rusty-moran's picture
rusty-moran's picture
rusty-moran commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 9:38pm

Well in Wingnut.

Another really good resource is Dr Natasha Campbell-Mcbrides book and website at http://www.gaps.me

"Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAP Syndrome or GAPS) is a condition which establishes a connection between the functions of the digestive system and the brain. This term was created by Dr Natasha Campbell–McBride, MD, MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (human nutrition) in 2004 after working with hundreds of children and adults with neurological and psychiatric conditions, such as autistic spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD⁄ADD), schizophrenia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, obsessive –compulsive disorder, bi-polar disorder and other neuro-psychological and psychiatric problems."

inzider's picture
inzider's picture
inzider commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 5:02pm

RIP shredlord.

Please read this article if you suffer from this illness

http://universityhealthnews.com/daily/gluten-free-food-allergies/the-sur...

Please read this book if you are further interested.

''The Grain Brain '' by Dr David Perlmutter

wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443 commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 6:00pm

Yeah, good stuff inzider. That whole train of thought is well worth exploring, even just for general health and wellbeing.

Folks, a few more $0.02 to throw in from me, the non doctor ;) ... Just watch, if ya r going to try going 'gluten free', most "gluten free" products have soy as the replacement for the 'binding' type agent. Soy, has been found to have similar effects as gluten for a LOT of people.

Surfboard Design and Construction Kook. Evidence is here: www.ffwsurfboards.com.au
*FFW - Few Fun Waves ... that's what it's all about for me.

Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68's picture
Rabbits68 commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 5:21pm

A very moving tribute & interview. Very sad given the circumstances. A great loss.

RIP Tyson.

Crystal Clear

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 5:51pm

Very sad news. RIP Tyson. Thanks for everyone's contributions to this page too. 

malibudutchie's picture
malibudutchie's picture
malibudutchie commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 5:59pm

What a beautifully produced tribute. Love the shots of him turning back to look up at the beast hes just ridden. The Black dog can get the strongest and he battled hard. A life well lived and RIP mate.

malibudutchie

dromodreamer's picture
dromodreamer's picture
dromodreamer commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 6:05pm

R.I.P Tyson. I once thought surfing would cure all ills, and it helps so much, but even surfing becomes meaningless in someway on the days your robbed of believing in beauty. I think wingnut, your on to something with all your research. I definitely think, warrior mentality has a bit to answer for and I see nothing but warrior in Tyson. But i like to use pow storys when i battle my own mind. Take a pow training mentality to ones own mind. Don't try to find hope, start with a reason to survive. Minute by minute. Not the next hour, the next day. Break it down to seconds if need be. That and don't drink around a handgun. Thanks swellnet for such honesty, no "he died in non suspicious circumstances". And its nice to have real people having a real conversations. Some of us have taken going to see the doctor off the table not to say it isn't the right path for some.

Wharfjunkie's picture
Wharfjunkie's picture
Wharfjunkie commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 8:02pm

Tragic RIP Tyson and Condolences to family.

I urge anyone who is suffering from mental illness to seek help and find a trusted friend or family member for support if you are like Tyson and don't want to broadcast your troubles to too many people.

Alcohol being a depressant can contribute towards depressive moods if you are struggling from time to time especially when consumed in excess. Good diet and exercise helps.

Sometimes you can have a shit day all it can take is positive interaction with someone to turn it around and last of all surfing helps even if its onshore slop.

Wharfjunkie's picture
Wharfjunkie's picture
Wharfjunkie commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 8:09pm

One last thing.
Don't be the person who tips someone over the edge.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Thursday, 1 Sep 2016 at 11:53am

"Don't be the person who tips someone over the edge."

Well said Wharfjunkie. A little care can go a long way.

Condolences to family and thanks for putting this out there, so brave, and no doubt will help many that they may never know. He looks like he was superman.

Been feeling a bit on the average side of late, as have a lot of people around me. Times are tough and seems like everyone is feeling it.

Really useful advice about zinc supplements and diet. A fair bit of science now pointing to diet as a much bigger issue than just keeping fat on or off.

benski's picture
benski's picture
benski commented Monday, 29 Aug 2016 at 10:01pm

Tragedy. Sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

Take care everyone.

Mecco's picture
Mecco's picture
Mecco commented Tuesday, 30 Aug 2016 at 7:23am

Cooper, thank you for sharing this desperately sad story with us. My heart goes out to you.
There is so much work to be done. Scientific research will lead to greater understanding of and treatment for mental illness. The honest and compassionate discussion above is a small contribution to more awareness in the community.
For those in a dark place always, always remember that there are others looking out for you. Talk to family, talk to friends, and if you can’t do that seek the many professional services that mcsc listed:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
Headspace on 1800 650 890

rusta's picture
rusta's picture
rusta commented Tuesday, 30 Aug 2016 at 7:27am

My memory of Tyson- surfing the biggest HT's ever. 12 foot plus. Got absolutely flogged. leg rope snapped, board in 3 pieces, completely stripped naked. walking up the beach afterwards laughing.
RIP.
Most stoked surfer in the line up.

rusta

saltman's picture
saltman's picture
saltman commented Tuesday, 30 Aug 2016 at 8:55am

best surf footage I've seen in a long while
you can feel the emotional connection he had with each wave

wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443's picture
wingnut2443 commented Tuesday, 30 Aug 2016 at 9:01am

Hey crew, timely reminder ...

It's the R U OK? day on the 8th September.

Here's an opportunity to get involved!

More info here: https://www.ruok.org.au/join-r-u-ok-day

Surfboard Design and Construction Kook. Evidence is here: www.ffwsurfboards.com.au
*FFW - Few Fun Waves ... that's what it's all about for me.

Litehouse's picture
Litehouse's picture
Litehouse commented Tuesday, 30 Aug 2016 at 9:43am

I saw many of Tyson's ocean exploits around Manly back in the 1990s. Towering airs, deep barrels, large waves and unbelievable skill. As a teenager he was already a legend. On a beach full of cookie cutter groms and conformist surfers he always stood out.
Great footage from Tahiti. He looks really at home among those barrels.

Cbass79's picture
Cbass79's picture
Cbass79 commented Tuesday, 30 Aug 2016 at 4:00pm

Reading this article is like reading my life story (on a lesser scale obviously!). I have been everywhere, done everything but it is never enough to overcome my depression. I can't remember a day when I didn't think about how to leave this planet, the only thing keeping me here is my son. I don't want to bring the mood down or fish for sympathy but I don't think most people really understand how involuntary depression is. It isn't something that can just be switched off. This article and the above comments have really inspired me to do more research and nail this [email protected] of a disease. Thanks.
RIP brother I feel your pain.

Roha1967's picture
Roha1967's picture
Roha1967 commented Tuesday, 30 Aug 2016 at 4:51pm

Power to you man, I'm hearing you. Keep the strength for the little ones in you life. They need there Dad.

Roha1967's picture
Roha1967's picture
Roha1967 commented Tuesday, 30 Aug 2016 at 4:45pm

A truly beautiful tribute, the power of the sea, Tysons obvious true connection with the sea and the music wow. Man this has really moved me. My heart goes out to the ones that are in Tysons inner circle, you all must be shattered.
Be strong.
RIP Tyson

Seedy jay's picture
Seedy jay's picture
Seedy jay commented Wednesday, 31 Aug 2016 at 8:18pm

I started out as a bodyboarder and remember Tyson in mags such a good surfer and by the sounds of it talented at every thing he put his hand to.

Depression sucks and very hard to get out of , i have suffered it and still have issues with it now,

Rest in peace

gibbsy's picture
gibbsy's picture
gibbsy commented Thursday, 1 Sep 2016 at 11:06am

https://riptidemag.com.au/2016/08/30/rest-peace-tyson-williams-superman-...

A few more words on an awesome guy and a dear friend. RIP little buddy

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Thursday, 1 Sep 2016 at 12:07pm

BTW, great tribute Mr Bonython.

Gaspard's picture
Gaspard's picture
Gaspard commented Friday, 6 Jan 2017 at 11:34pm

I was literally disturbed by the figure, the gestures on the water and the life of Tyson Williams. I wrote this poem for him (in french) here:
facebook.com/notes/gaspard-coudrier/teahupoo/358055291230565

I would like to share it with you:
________
Teahupo’o
à Tyson Williams

Tant d’empreintes,
dans l’eau
nulle ne
s’efface.

Je ne sais
quels chemins
j’ai suivis
pour venir

à ce rivage où je
ne sais rien :
Teahupo’o…

Je voulais être près de toi.

Tu es encore

plus loin.

Ils n’ont pas de parole,
les flots,

des gestes,
comme
un homme qui
se trouve là

où il croirait se perdre.

Rien ne t’emporte.


I tried a translation. I hope it’s a good translation. If somebody wants to correct it…
thanks

________
Teahupo’o
To Tyson Williams

So many traces,
in water
None
Disappears.

I don’t know
Wich paths
I have followed
to come

To this shore where I
Do not know anything:
Teahupo’o …

I wanted to be near you.

You’re still

further.

They have no words,
the waves,

gestures as
a man who
Is there

Where he would think himself lost.

Nothing beats you.

__________
Precision:
Teahupo'o means "wall of the skulls" or "place of the skulls". A meaning not very far from that of Golgotha, which means "place of the skull". That's why I put this word (this passion) at the center of the poem. Everything revolves around, like the wave, it is the place of self-offering. A known place of Tyson.

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