NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider Olympics

All About Olympic Surfer John John Florence and His Life on the Waves

Gearing up for a showdown on the waves, Florence is embodying respect, rivalry, and the pursuit of greatness ahead of 2024 Paris. 

By Clara Faulkner

In the electrifying world of professional surfing, one name stands out for his unique style and unmatched skill: John John Florence.

With his unmatched skills on the water, Florence has carved his path through the waves and etched his name in surfing history.

With a natural affinity for the ocean from a young age, Florence quickly transitioned from the shores to amateur competitions, where he collected numerous awards. Now, at age 31, Florence has qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics; all eyes turn to this Hawaiian prodigy, poised to showcase his remarkable talent on the world's grandest sports stage.  

RELATED: Saturday Night Live's Colin Jost to Cover 2024 Olympic Surfing in Tahiti

His Famous Family

John John Florence of Hawaii looks on during the Relentless Boardmasters in 2009

John John Florence's journey in surfing is deeply rooted in his family's connection to Hawaii's surfing culture. Born in 1992 in Honolulu, Hawaii, he was immersed in the world of waves from an early age, thanks to his parents, Alex and Alexandra Florence. 

Alexandra, a former competitive surfer, shared her passion for the ocean with Florence and his brother, Nathan. Alex, a sailor and surfboard shaper, provided guidance and encouragement for his beginning in surfing. 

Raised in an athletic environment, Florence began making waves early in his career. At just 13, he competed as the youngest surfer in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. By the time he was 18, he won the event, becoming and remaining the youngest winner.

One enduring aspect of Florence's legacy is his name.

When questioned about the origins of his name, Florence told the Olympics, "I honestly really don't know the answer to that question. It's just kind of something I've been called since I was a little kid growing up here in Hawaii, and I don't remember the first time or anything about it."

Beyond their surfing achievements, the Florence family is deeply involved in various environmental and community initiatives in Hawaii and beyond. In 2020, Florence launched an apparel brand called Florence Marine X with a philosophy centered on "building products that celebrate the ocean, sustainability, exploration, and overall just doing the right thing.”

Florence's commitment to sustainability is more than just a business endeavor; it reflects his deep-rooted dedication to protecting the environment. His brand promotes eco-friendly practices and actively supports initiatives to preserve the ocean and its ecosystems.

“The more we realize how much plastic is out there. It’s not going away on its own…” Florence said in a video statement. “But the good news is that every one of us has the chance to do something about it. Simple things like carrying a reusable water bottle and avoiding single-use plastics (we saw a ton of straws in this cave), and then just taking some time to clean up the places we enjoy. We were inspired on this trip by all the groups who are finding ways to be part of the solution.”

He’s a New Dad

John John Florence of Hawaii grabs a rail as he rides backside

In a heartwarming twist to his illustrious career, Florence has embarked on a new and exciting chapter as a father. In May 2024, he and his partner, Lauryn Cribb, welcomed their first child, John Jr., into the world.

In a candid interview with People, Florence shared his thoughts on fatherhood, expressing, "I just went into the whole thing of being a dad really open-minded — and the moment it happened, it was just the coolest experience ever."

Following the arrival of his son, Florence hastily packed his bags and embarked on a journey to another Polynesian island, determined to attend the 2024 Tahiti Pro ahead of Paris 2024. 

"I would say it's one of the most powerful waves in the world," Florence told People the Tahiti surf break, which also serves as the venue for the Paris surf competition. "But it's also one of the most consistent waves in the world, in the sense that it's really similar every time when it's really good."

RELATED: Pro Surfer Carissa Moore Reflects on Decision to Retire After 2024 Olympics: "It's Strange"

Kelly Slater is a big fan

John John Florence of Hawaii competes in the Relentless Boardmasters

Surf League champion Kelly Slater has long been a supporter of Florence. When Florence was just a child, and his days of triumph were still on the horizon, Slater saw his skills on the waves. The champion claimed that Florence can understand the ocean "like no one we've ever seen before."

The two previously faced off when Florence delivered a performance nearly identical to his competitor Slater's in what many consider a monumental competition at the WSL Tahiti Pro in 2014. Both athletes earned close-to-perfect scores, with the average score being a 9.89.

Although Slater and Florence are 20 years apart, Florence says, "Growing up, he was always my idol.” 

Their history comes full circle as the 2024 Summer Games takes an unexpected turn. The surf competition will be hosted at Teahupoʻo in Tahiti, where the memorable showdown between Florence and Slater unfolded in 2014.

"I got to know him when I was young... someone to look up to. Then, it transitioned into competing against him and learning how to be like, 'Oh, wait. Now... I can beat him,' and wrap your mind around that," Florence told People.

Florence continues to aim big, and is seeking to redeem himself after dropping out of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the third round. Having had time to reflect on the loss, Florence told People he now knows that he let the outside noise and chatter get to him at the last Olympics. "When I am able to relax a little bit and just have fun with it, that's when I compete my best," he said.

As Florence, Griffin Colapinto, and more qualified athletes gear up for a showdown on the waves, the stage is set not just for a competition but for a pivotal moment in surfing — one of five new Olympic sports — embodying respect, rivalry, and the pursuit of greatness at the Summer Olympics.

Don't Miss

Watch live coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 26, on NBC and Peacock beginning at 12 p.m. ET. Telemundo will provide Spanish-language coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Primetime coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC and Peacock.

Read more about: