Dave Mirra was a BMX legend, and his death in 2016 hit the world of extreme sports like a tidal wave.
When the freestyle pioneer landed the first ever in-competition double backflip at the 2000 X Games he captured a new generation for the sport and set the bar a little higher.
Mirra’s star power also translated into a series of video games, which most kids of the 90s probably played at some point.
The 41-year-old died after shooting himself – a death that confused many, but emphasised the tragic need to understand depression.
As reported by the Daily Mail at the time of his death, many of those close to Mirra simply didn’t know he was depressed.
A friend who wished to remain anonymous commented:
It just does not make any sense that he would do this.
He adored his wife Lauren and his two girls. Anyone who knew Dave would say that he was the most devoted husband and doted on the girls. They were his life. It just does not make sense.
Goodbye Dave Mirra, a true pioneer, icon and legend. Thank you for the memories… we are heartbroken. pic.twitter.com/RHpTe7Qzwi
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) February 5, 2016
Since his death examinations of Mirra’s brain suggested to researchers that he was suffering from a brain disorder potentially caused by repeated blows to the head, sustained from his riding career.
A statement from Mirra’s family confirmed he suffered from CTE with depression one of the symptoms:
Following the death of BMX icon Dave Mirra, the Mirra family decided to pursue posthumous neurological testing which included a study for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
The study was coordinated by the University of Toronto and the Canadian Concussion Centre under the direction of Lili-Naz Hazrati, M.D., PhD.
Leading neuropathologists from the U.S. and abroad unanimously confirmed the diagnosis of CTE.
Mirra was the first action sports star to be diagnosed with the condition.
Mirra became a pro rider in 1992 and went on to medal at every X Games from 1995-2009, bar 2006, and held the most number of medals from the annual event until he was surpassed by Bob Burnquist in 2013. He also drove rallycross, and had a stint in the world of boxing.
In his life Mirra pushed the limits of what humans could achieve on two wheels, and even his tragically early death has served to open the world’s eyes to issues surrounding concussions in sport, and the impact of depression.
His wife and two daughters lost their father, the town of Greenville, North Carolina lost a pillar of the community, and the world lost a legend.
David Michael Mirra, born April 4, 1974, died February 4, 2016.