Irons' tribute draws thousands

A memorial held Sunday for three-time world champion surfer Andy Irons drew thousands of people to Huntington Beach and to other similar memorials around the world.

Sunday's paddle-out coincided with memorials globally, with surfers from around the world also showing up in Hawaii to support his family and friends.

The Huntington Beach tribute began on the sand with those who knew Irons speaking about his life and legacy.

Longtime friend and pastor Sumo Sato, who performed the service, said Irons' wife Lyndie is heartbroken, especially as the birth of their son Axel nears in the next few weeks.

After the service on the sand, several hundred surfers paddled out to the south side of Huntington Beach Pier and formed a circle. The paddle-out was watched by more than 2,000 people on the pier.

Irons' death was a shock to the surfing world, and he was on the cusp of a comeback after taking a year off from the Assn. of Surfing Professionals World Tour.

There is controversy surrounding his death — while initial reports cited a viral disease called dengue fever, other reports say pain and sleeping pills were found in his room.

A coroner's report has yet to be released.

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