Born: November 24, 1975
Town: Ocean City
Dean Randazzo was born November 24, 1969 in Atlantic City. He learned to surf on a boogie board and began competing in local surfing contest at age 11. He regularly finished among the leaders despite using a board that was as much duct tape as fiberglass. Surfing was something of a cult sport on the Jersey Shore in the 1980s. Dean learned as much from pictures in surfing magazines as he did from veteran surfers. The rougher the water and bigger the waves, the more likely Dean was to be out there.
Dean lived in Ocean City and attended Mainland Regional High School in Linwood. As a sophomore in 1985, he was invited to compete in a national scholastic tournament in California. As his ambition to be a pro surfer grew, he spent more and more time on the West Coast. Dean moved to California permanently in 1989. He began competing as a pro one year later. His style and skill drew comparisons to then-champion Tom Curren.
Over the next few years, Dean became a regular in World Qualifying Series events, a pro tour that served as a development league for the top-tier World Championship Tour (WCT). Dean attracted enough sponsorship money to make it to the WCT in 1996. His fearless surfing earned him the nickname Jersey Devil. He was the first surfer from the Garden State to compete at this level.
At age 32, Dean noticed a strange lump on his neck and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. During his recovery he started the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation. Revealing his disease publicly was a risk—surfing sponsors promote healthy, carefree lifestyle. He made the announcement in 2001 at the U.S. Open in Huntington Beach. Although some sponsors backed away, most stepped up to support his fundraising efforts.
Dean returned to the waves and was named MVP of the X Games in 2004. However, the cancer kept returning. By 2009, after battling through three recurrences, Dean was finally cancer-free and competing again, in both regular and masters events. In 2010, he won the Masters of Pro Surfing title in Florida.
Dean’s foundation has raised nearly $500,000 for cancer research and awareness. He also paved he way for more New Jersey surfers, including Sam Hammer, one of the top U.S. surfers.
In 2014, Dean was inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame. He also owns a surfboard company that creates boards that are works of art. Dean and his wife, Barbara, have two sons, Dean Jr. and Chayton.