Their miraculous survival story sparked an international media frenzy and is soon to be the subject of a television movie.
But nearly two years after Josh Long and Troy Driscoll were rescued at sea after a grueling six days adrift in a 14-foot boat, the two Lowcountry teens lead surprisingly normal lives.
Long, now 19, fixes cars at Gerald's Tires in Summerville. Driscoll, now 17, is a junior in high school and works part time at a Subway sandwich shop near his North Charleston home. Both have steady girlfriends, close relationships with their parents and an undaunted love affair with the water.
They do all the things ordinary teenagers do, except, when asked, they have a remarkable story to tell.
"I don't put it out there," Driscoll said during an interview on a recent spring day on his back porch. "I keep it contained as much as possible. I'm just a regular teenager."
A few days later, Long offered a similar view as he took a break from pressure-washing a boat in the driveway of his dad's home. "I don't feel like I'm somebody special," he said. "I still look at life the same way, just with brighter eyes."
It was two years ago Monday, just as the massive search effort to find them shifted to a recovery mission and even the most optimistic onlookers lost hope, that the seemingly impossible happened: Fisherman Rick Smith spotted a speck on the horizon and decided to take a closer look. The boys had drifted 100 miles up the Carolina coast from where they had been fishing off Sullivan's Island, where a riptide pulled their powerless boat out to sea.
News of the improbable rescue spread like wildfire on April 30, 2005, a Saturday afternoon, stunning the community and drawing interest from around the world. Crowds at area restaurants erupted into applause, seasoned mariners shook their heads in disbelief and strangers wept for boys they knew only in newscasts.
Dehydrated, sunburned and weak, the boys arrived back in the Lowcountry to a hero's welcome, the carelessness of their actions — the day they disappeared was a blustery day and the National Weather Service had warned small boats to keep off waterways — overshadowed by the enormity of their survival.
After the rescue, they shuttled nonstop among media interviews, speaking engagements and celebrations. They appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and were profiled by several national magazines.
They spoke to church congregations across the state until the requests became so numerous they had to put their story on DVD.
Talk of a movie deal surfaced almost immediately. Two years later, it is still in the works, but the families are encouraged by the involvement of ABC Disney and a screenwriter whose credits include "Apollo 13." Long and Driscoll declined to say what they'll earn from selling the rights to their story, but neither expects to get rich and move to Hollywood.
In fact, both have their eyes on local careers that likely will keep them in the Lowcountry to someday raise their own families. Though, of the two, Driscoll seems the one more likely to settle down.
A self-described mama's boy, Driscoll attends school and plays on the basketball team at Grace Christian Academy. He has his driver's license now and loves diving and fishing.
The thick, blond mop of hair that once swooped low over his eyebrows and ears is now close-cropped. The silver braces that twinkled in so many interviews and photos beaming across the globe are gone, revealing teeth worthy of a toothpaste ad.
Perhaps the most astonishing change is Driscoll's height. He now stands over 6 feet tall.
Long's little sidekick is now a man who is planning for a demanding and dangerous profession. Driscoll plans to follow in the career footsteps of his father, Tony Driscoll, a North Charleston firefighter.
Driscoll's mother, Deb Fowler, isn't crazy about the idea, but she knows a teenager's nature. "The more I say something about it, the more he will go in that direction."
Long is still considering a military career, but for now he's enjoying his job at Gerald's, which helps him fund his passion for off-road trucks and rebuilding engines and affords him time to hunt and fish.
Eddie Long says the rescue only furthered his son's independent streak, which is reflected in the Confederate flag and Southern heritage stickers that cover Josh Long's truck, cellphone and other belongings.
Long sees little beyond the day at hand, Eddie Long says. "He's a free spirit. He enjoys today. He doesn't have any ambition to have the biggest or best car or anything."
When school officials warned Josh Long that excessive absences could derail his high school graduation, he decided to drop out.
Though they see each other less these days, Driscoll and Long remain close, their relationship cemented by that unspoken bond that often exists between combat buddies. "We are still like brothers," Driscoll said. "That's never going to change."
They often go fishing on a boat that was a gift from North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and others after the rescue. One outing revealed how the emotions from two years ago remain close to the surface.
When Driscoll recently headed out to go boating, a scary feeling washed over his mother. "I broke down and cried," Fowler said. "It just came out of nowhere. I guess I will have a certain amount of that forever."