Hawaii Surf Legend Sunny Garcia Says First Words Since He Was Hospitalized in April

September 17, 2019 Updated: September 17, 2019

Surf legend Vincent “Sunny” Garcia has begun to speak since he was hospitalized in April and is now in physical, speech, and occupational therapy, said his daughter.

“We are taking one day at a time and celebrating each little triumph,” said daughter Kaila Garcia, who runs the PrayForSunny account. “My dad is a warrior and fighting everyday to get better and stronger. He has said a few words and is now in therapy daily- physical, speech and occupational.”

“My family and I thank you for your continued support for My dad as he continues to heal. It’s going to be a marathon not a sprint but we work every day to make sure he is surrounded with love, laughter and ohana,” she added.

According to KHON, he said his eldest daughter’s name for the first time.

Sunny Garcia in a file photo (Pierre Tostee/Getty Images)

In April, the 49-year-old surfer was sent to an intensive care unit. The reason why he was admitted there is not clear.

Family friend Janae Twisselman said that he was placed in a medically induced coma, KHON reported.

“When he first started, he was in an induced coma a few months ago, and now we’re in a place where he’s functioning completely on his–you know for his physical self, his body–on his own,” said Twisselman. “I think it’s just really incredible to watch it, and also you know every little improvement is such a major win for [the family],” she added.

Twisselman said that his family has been attempting to raise awareness during Suicide Prevention Month, which, she said, “obviously hits home” for them.

Garcia, a Hawaii native, began surfing at age 5 and became a professional at age 16. He won six Triple Crown championships as well as the WSL’s world championship in 2000, CNN reported.

Sunny Garcia in a 2000 file photo (Pierre Tostee/ALLSPORT)

He has also appeared in more than 75 surf movies, TV shows, and videos.

Fellow surfer Kelly Slater posted a tribute in April when Garcia was hospitalized.

“Sunny…I love you, brother. I just can’t even fathom you not here. We’ve got so much more living to do before we are done. There’s been hard times but there have been so many good ones, too. Just praying you wake up and we get more of you. (Sorry for my big head…it’s the last photo Sunny and I took together a couple months ago). 🙏🏽 #MyOtherBrother,” he wrote on Instagram.

The family also started a GoFundMe, raising tens of thousands of dollars for his medical care.