In Requiem for the Surf Rider Sonny Miller

My cousin Sonny Miller passed away after a heart attack on July 8, 2014. He died six days after his mother died from Dementia. He was one of the most dynamic individuals I have ever known.

Sonny-Josh-2012Sonny traveled the world making surfing movies. His resume included a long list of surfing classics, including Riding Giants, Searching for Tom Curren, and the James Bond movie Die Another Day. He was also the announcer at the end of Blue Crush. His Instagram photos were always of great adventures across the globe.

Sonny&JoshMy cousin was an amazing photographer. Sonny had worldwide success because he was one of the best photographers on the planet. Part of my love of photography was inspired heavily from him when I was a child.

I would touch base with him and find out he was doing something awesome, like going to Hawaii with the Roxy Girls. That certainly made me re-think my career choices.

BigSurSurf_9646Sonny’s company was World Wave Pictures, which made me think: What is the legal definition of a wave? According to case law, “A wave is a naturally occurring phenomenon of the ocean — not a man-made object such as the floating poles, logs, and pilings… A wave may be a dangerous condition of the ocean, but, by its very nature, cannot be an unnatural condition.” Birmingham v. Fodor’s Travel Publications, 73 Haw. 359, 379-380 (Haw. 1992).

Death is like a wave. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon. That does not take away the the fact it can knock someone off their feet.

Sonny was a man of adventure, talent, and great compassion. He dutifully took care of his mother for seven years in the twilight of her life. I know that I will always remember him when looking at the crashing surf.

Red skies and following seas, my cousin.


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Josh Gilliland
Josh Gilliland is a California attorney who focuses his practice on eDiscovery. Josh is the co-creator of The Legal Geeks, which has made the ABA Journal Top Blawg 100 Blawg for 2013 to 2016, the ABA Web 100 for Best Legal Blog and Podcast categories, and was nominated for Best Podcast for the 2015 Geekie Awards. Josh has presented at legal conferences and comic book conventions across the United States. He also ties a mean bow tie.