After winning 11 world titles, it's safe to say that Kelly Slater knows a thing or two about competitive surfing, and what he knew when he first saw São Paulo’s Adriano Elias de Souza surf in competition, was that one day he'd be surfing against the guy on the World Tour.
Adriano started surfing at the age of eight, but within two years was already competing. At 15, the press were calling him the next great hope for Brazilian surfing. But, it was in 2003 that Adriano really snagged the world's attention, when 'Mineirinho' (as he's known) became the world junior champion at just 16.
Adriano qualified for the WSL World Tour in 2006, and has only finished outside the top 10 once since. The man is a performer. He has multiple WCT wins and has three times finished fifth (2009, 2011 and 2012) in the world title ratings. In 2015, his greatest dream came true when he defied the odds and became the second-ever Brazilian to become a World Champion and followed the up with his first-ever Billabong Pipeline Masters win.
Adriano surfs with more passion than anyone else on tour, period. He'll ride each wave like it was his last and wears his heart on his sleeve. It's for this reason that audiences all over the world respect him.