MICK Fanning and his family have been plunged into grief after the death of his older brother, Tweed Shire resident Peter Fanning.
Fanning is overseas competing for a fourth world surfing title at the Pipe Masters in Oahu, Hawaii.
Reports of the death of Peter Fanning emerged early this morning (AEDT) prior to Mick defeating Jamie O'Brien in his third-round heat.
It is believed the 43-year-old died in his sleep.
Mick paid tribute to his "hero" on his Facebook page on Thursday.
"Like all my big brothers, Peter will always be a hero to me. I have so many great memories of the good times we have all spent together and they will be with me forever," he wrote.
"We recently caught up and Peter told me how proud he was of me and how much he loves watching me compete.
"Today was one of the most challenging days of my life but I knew I could find the strength to take part in the final event of the season because that's what Pete would want.
"Tell the special people in your life you love them and give them a hug."
A local source has told the Tweed Daily News that he suffered from heart problems for many years.
A spokesperson for Mick Fanning's sponsor Rip Curl confirmed his brother Peter's death.
"This is a sad and unfortunate incident and is a private matter for the family to deal with," the spokesperson said.
"We ask that the media respect their privacy. But we can confirm Mick's older brother Peter has sadly passed away. We will not be commenting further."
Another of Mick Fanning's older brothers, Sean, died in a car accident in 1998.
It is the latest trauma for Mick Fanning and his family with the 34-year-old Gold Coast/Tweed Shire resident surviving an altercation with a shark in the final of the J-Bay Open in South Africa in July.
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