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NY Post
New York Post
1 Jul 2023

NextImg:Shaun White’s heart condition connected him with Jimmy Kimmel and fans

When Shaun White was a baby, he was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, a rare condition caused by a combination of four heart defects, which required him to have two surgeries before he turned 1.

“I hid the fact that I had the heart condition just because I didn’t want . . . that to be the big story to come out of the Olympics,” he told The Post ahead of the July 6 release of his Max docuseries “Shaun White: The Last Run.”

“But after my second Olympics, I . . . talked about it. And then I got to hear stories . . . and just these amazing letters and messages that came to me.

“Even Jimmy Kimmel called and was like, ‘Hey, my son is going through multiple heart surgeries and we were in the hospital and the first name they brought up was yours . . . maybe my son can have a chance to have a normal life and not just normal, it could be extraordinary.'”

White, 36, grew up to become the GOAT of snowboarding, but kept his three Olympic gold medals hidden away.

Jimmy Kimmel’s son was diagnosed with the same heart condition that White underwent two surgeries for as a baby.
ABC via Getty Images

“You won’t really see any trophies at my house,” he said.

“It was a mental thing. . . .I was just kind of on this mission and I didn’t want any reminders of success around me. I would just win the trophy, put it away and just keep going because it was more about what’s next. It took me a lot later on in life to go, ‘Ok, let’s celebrate a bit.'”

The San Diego native started competing at 7 and was a millionaire by 15.

One of his purchases after his first Olympic win at 19 was a Lamborghini, which he soon wrecked.

shaun white

The San Diego native, who also was a professional skateboarder, started snowboarding at 5 years old and began competing at age 7.
©Courtesy of Shaun White Family/Max

“My friends are like, ‘Let’s go get some food’ and I’m like, ‘Ok, I’ll beat you there,'” he said. “And I’m flying through my neighborhood … and I just hit this turn and the car spun and I hit one of the trees … It was a whole thing. I ended up going to driving school after that because they weren’t going to give me insurance to get a new one.” 

White, who is also a former professional skateboarder, and holds the world record for the most X Games gold medals and most Olympic gold medals by a snowboarder, loves his fans.

One encounter made him tear up while recounting it.

“Somebody messaged me and said … ‘You really mean a lot to us … our daughter was going through a lot, she had this illness and we were in the hospital with her and we watched the Olympics and we watched you win. And she died shortly after and so you’re kind of the last memory we have with her celebrating.'”

shaun white

The three-time Olympic gold winner has heard many heartwarming stories from fans. “This world of sports extends much further than just … winning and losing,” he said.
Denver Post via Getty Images

Another recollection makes him laugh.

“I was very shy and I was nervous to talk to girls at a young age … and at a certain point, I would get approached and I didn’t know what to do with it,” he said.

“I was on my way to a competition and I’m so laser-focused on what I got to do … and a girl came up and she’s like, ‘We gotta hang out later,’ and she threw her cell phone at me and I caught it and she gets whisked away … and she’s like, ‘I’ll call you later.'”

There were other girls gathered, so he wound up procuring multiple phones, right before he was about to compete.

shaun white, nina dobrev

White has been dating actress Nina Dobrev since 2020.
Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

“I’m at the top of the half pipe, I got these cell phones in my pocket,” he recalled, laughing.

Now that he’s retired, White, whose last Olympic run was in 2022, may bring back his famous red mane, which he chopped off in 2012 — especially since his girlfriend, actress Nina Dobrev, is into it.

“I did a commercial where they put a wig on me and I thought it was funny to wear it home,” he said. “And she was kind of like, ‘Oh, hello, stranger.'”