Despite a Life-Changing Diagnosis, Greg Browning Chooses to Power On

Riding the wave.

Greg Browning grew up surfing at 16th Street in Hermosa Beach. A member of the surfing crew referred to as Momentum Generation—named after the 1992 Taylor Steele surf film—his contemporaries include Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, Donavon Frankenreiter and Shane Dorian. 

“Not only did Greg outsurf everyone in the South Bay by winning multiple amateur contests, but he also went on to have a successful career as a nationally recognized freesurfer,” says good friend Keith Brewer. 

After his surfing career, Greg transitioned into filmmaking, creating the beloved Drive Thru series with Donavon. Just last year they worked on installment #10. 

“I have known Greg for over 35 years, and he is the reason the Drive Thru series ever happened and continues to exist,” shares Donavon. “He is one of a kind and someone I am proud to call my friend.” 

Earlier this year, Greg went surfing with his son Parker and was stoked to be out on one of his favorite waves. It started as a great day, with waves that were “glassy, 4 feet and really clean,” Greg remembers. “I paddled into a set and tried to stand up, but I had no strength in my left arm. I couldn’t get up and ended up dropping in on my stomach.” 

He took a gash to the face. Initially, the doctor thought his numbness could be nerve-related. He had also been feeling weakness in his left arm for about a month, including his shoulder and fingers. “My strength was 50% at best.” 

Greg was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and reduces physical function. It causes difficulties in speaking and swallowing as well as respiratory failure. 

“It’s so weird to surf your whole life and then barely be able to stand up,” adds Greg. “[It gives me] a whole new perspective on life.” 

As Greg fights the disease and shares his story to raise awareness, his South Bay community is rallying around him with love and support. Keith organized a GoFundMe page to help Greg with the mounting medical expenses. It has raised more than $190,000—and counting—in less than two months as this issue goes to press. 

As Keith says, “Greg is loved all over the world.”