Remembering Dave Mirra

The BMX icon’s apparent suicide, at the age of 41, has shocked the action sports community and “leaves a huge hole in the heart of BMX.”

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Feb 5 2016, 10:20pm

Photo by Fat Tony

A few months ago Dave Mirra posted a video on Instagram of him in hitting a jump on a kid's BMX bike. He's wearing street clothes, and the bike is clearly too small for him. He pedals into the jump, but on the landing, sticks the front down too hard and flies over the handlebars, somersaulting into the dirt in front of his young daughter.

"Wow, good bail," Mirra said, smiling and dusting himself off. Then, turning to his daughter, "What did your dad just do?"

That attitude is how I want to remember Mirra—his contagious enthusiasm for BMX, his humble nature, even as an icon for his sport. Yesterday, he was found dead by an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Greenville, North Carolina. Mirra, who reportedly had been dealing with depression for the past few years, was only 41.

"Dave's death leaves a huge hole in the heart of BMX," said Scott Towne of Dans Comp. "He was a BMX superhero who pushed the limits beyond comprehension, with style, control and pure finesse for two full decades... He was beyond human."

READ MORE: Scott Breithaupt: A BMX Pioneer

As a BMX rider, I first saw Mirra when I was teenager in magazines and videos. I became a fan and eventually met him and rode with him several times. After our many small interactions, I came to think of him as a friend, and I watched him change the world of BMX.

"His self-titled video game is responsible for creating the [trick] progression we see today," said pro BMX rider Anthony Napolitan. "Kids were button-jacking their controllers not knowing that they'd done an impossible trick that's now possible today."

Mirra's accomplishments in BMX are too many to list. He won 24 X Games medals—14 of them gold—between 1995 and 2008. He pulled off tricks no one thought possible, and he became a spokesman, face, and leader of the industry.

"In the world of extreme sports, and in our case BMX, there are always the ones that think 'I can do that' when everyone else is thinking 'No way,'" said Chris Rye of Props BMX . "Dave Mirra took the mastery of his craft by the balls and showed people what was possible on a 20-inch bike. And he was loved for it."

Mirra continually pushed limits in every direction. In 2008, reinvented himself as a rally car driver, driving at the X Games until 2013. He also drove a rally car for the Subaru Rally Team USA in 2012 and 2013. He was a triathlete, a long-distance runner, a boxer, and a cyclist. But he will be most remembered for his time on a bike.

"Dave changed the landscape of BMX. He was one of the best riders of all time and, through his poise and professionalism, single-handedly brought BMX into the limelight," said BMX journalist Kyle Carlson of Vital BMX. "If it wasn't for Dave, the concept of riding BMX for a living in 2016 may not even exist."

Mirra leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

Dave Mirra. Photo by Fat Tony