Shark attack inspires musician to live beautiful life

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C.(WCIV) -- For Justin James, the day started out just like many others; waking up to the sounds of tropical birds chirping, the sun brightly shinning from powder blue sky and the call of the ocean breeze beckoning to him.

All seemed right with the world.

James awoke with his usual high energy and enthusiasm for the life, but little did he know that this day, which started like so many before it, would set him on a different path.

A passionate and skilled wind surfer, James and some friends followed their quest for wind and waves to the coast of Venezuela.

The trip was off to a smashing success.

Great waves, great buddies and great fun, but that trip of a lifetime would soon become a life changer.

"It was just a beautiful day that turned in to a bit of a nightmare," he said.

During a trip out in the surf, James suddenly felt a strange sensation near his ankle.

"I was in shock. I just saw a little torpedo come and grab onto my ankle," he said. "The water was thrashing and everything stopped and all the water started turning red."

What he saw and soon felt was actually a tiger shark clamping down on his foot with razor-sharp teeth.

James was lucky to escape the water and was helped back to shore but not before the shark did considerable damage.

"I got back to the beach, I just pulled myself back by my forearms," James said. "I folded my leg back together and my friend came to me and I said look, I'm going to die, I'm loosing too much blood."

Luckily, James's friend was a former ski patrol member and managed to get to a hospital quickly.

James underwent emergency surgery and needed 250 stitches to put his foot back together.

That was just the beginning of his long road to recovery.

"I was in a bed with my leg elevated for about four or five months. I couldn't even lower my leg because the blood would rush down and the pain," he said.

At times it was too much to bear; the pain, the stationary lifestyle, the inability to do all the things he loved - but soon a simple gift meant to pass the time, would change his world.{}

As he lay in a hospital room, and later his own home recovering for an entire year, he was visited by his grandmother who gave him a small guitar.

"I grew up singing in a choir and playing the cello but those aren't exactly instruments to write a pop song to."

James picked up the guitar and wrote the first of what he calls his two-chord wonders.

"At that time it was just a hobby," James said." I didn't think it would be a career, but I moved back to the Caribbean and Hawaii for a little bit and a good friend of mine said wow you can really sing."

James took his passion and new found abilities back to California where he studied music and signed his first record contract.

"Ever since then I've been chasing the dream." He said.

James's "A Beautiful Life Tour" made its way to Charleston recently with shows in Summerville and the Windjammer on the Isle of Palms.

James started his own music company and travels the country in his mobile home.

"No fast cars or first class tickets but I've learned a lot and I love it," James said. "I have a little music company...We're pretty small right now but things are good. I believe if you build it slow it will last longer."

To learn more about Justin James or to preview some of his music just log to or find him on Itunes.


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