It is with great sadness that I halt my X Games recaps for this post. Most of you probably have heard the news, but in case you haven’t, action sports legend Dave Mirra died yesterday from what appears to be a suicide. When I was in Aspen, I was thinking about how I hadn’t seen much from him and how I missed his presence. Then I read what happened, and my heart has been aching for his family, his friends, and the community.
I never met Dave, but he was one of the key figures in my early years of watching the X Games and other related contests. He was the epitome of an athlete, someone who worked hard to reach the top of the podium. I remember those fierce showdowns with Jay Miron and Jamie Bestwick. When he pulled the first double backflip in X Games BMX Park, I went nuts. This was a guy who pushed the limits, the “Miracle Boy”. He took BMX to another level.
Dave was also a friendly face that helped action sports reach a broader audience. I remember the friendly banter that happened between him, Ryan Nyquist, and Dennis McCoy in the behind-the-scenes features of various BMX tours. Dave was always like someone who didn’t quit. When he retired from BMX, he did rally. After that, he trained for triathlons. No matter what he did, he put 100% and it showed.
At the end of the day though, it’s not the number of gold medals you have or world records you set. It’s the impact you have, and last night, I couldn’t help but tear up at all the tribute posts fellow athletes, BMX and other, and even non-action sports folks shared. He touched so many of us.
Death is an unfortunate aspect of action sports, but Dave’s shocked us all. It’s one thing to hear about someone having an accident while doing something they live for; it’s another to hear that they’ve taken their own life. It’s a sobering reminder of how people who seem to have it all, who put on a smiling face, may be hurting deep inside. I worry about the other athletes because we hardly ever hear about their troubles and because I have to wonder if the effects of brain injury played a role. That’s something to ponder when our grief has subsided a bit.
A couple days ago, Dave posted on his Instagram: “Fight to win! We all have a battles [sic] to fight. Never back down. Love you all.”. We might not ever understand what has happened, but we have to try to reach out, to support one another, to push for answers if it can save a life, and to live. Rest in peace, Dave Mirra. We’ll miss you, but we’ll never forget you.