R.I.P….Ride in Peace Dave Mirra

By on February 6, 2016

Dave Mirra_2-5-16

In today’s world it’s hard to drive down the street and not see a group of kids riding skateboards on the sidewalk, or even a child’s bike that doesn’t have pegs on the front and rear hubs.  I even bet that no matter where you live that if you Google skate park there is probably one within a half hours drive of your front door.  The fact is that as little as 20 years ago this wasn’t the case at all.  So why the overwhelming boom in an industry that most parents used to shun their children away from, whether it be negative stereotypes or the high probability of scars and broken bones?  The short answer of course is ESPN and the Xgames.  To put things into perspective the first Xgames was just a hand full of events, on a brand new ESPN2, and shown on tape delay.  Now there are over 20 individual contests, for both male and female contestants, airing in prime time on network television.  It’s hard to say why the incredible rise of “Action” or “Extreme” sports took off the way it did but this is much I do know…  Kids love stunts, big air, and heroes so laid back and cool you wish they were your older brother.  And in the world of BMX Vert and Street there was no person cooler then Dave Mirra, who sadly committed suicide on February 4th, 2016.

If Tony Hawk is the king of skateboarding then Mirra was the God of BMX.  For over 15 years no one came close to Mirra at the Xgames.  Mirra medaled in every Xgames competition from 1995 to 2009, winning 14 gold’s and 24 total medals in his career.  The 24 total medals were a record for most by an individual athlete and was not broken until 2013 when Bob Burnquist surpassed him.  Mirra also won an ESPY in 2005 for best action sport athlete, hosted MTV’s Real World /Road Rules Challenge, and was featured in the video game Dave Mirra’s Freestyle BMX.  Most importantly though is the one thing that statistics cannot show, and that is influence, and no one had a bigger influence on the sport of BMX then Mirra.  I myself have ridden the same Haro bike since I was a teenager and a large part of that was because of Mirra, who was sponsored by the company for most of his career.  Once Mirra was broadcasted across the country to millions of wide eyed kids, shovels immediately disappeared from every garage and planks of plywood vanished from unattended construction sites.  At this point the race between what could soar higher, aspiring future athlete, or their parent’s insurance premiums, had begun.

At 4pm a phone call came into the Greenville, North Carolina police station of a possible suicide.  Moments later officers discovered the former champion alone in his truck with an apparent gunshot wound to the head.  As the news of his death began to leak out, social media erupted with condolences and support for his wife and 2 daughters that he left behind.  Mirra had been a staple in the small college town since he first moved there in the early 90’s which led to the migration of dozens of other riders giving the town the nickname “Protown.”   Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas even held a press conference calling Mirra “a wonderful human being” and someone who was “a humble guy talking with kids on the street corner about bikes.”

Regardless of if it’s a family member or a childhood idol, death affects everyone differently.  Yet when it comes to suicide it always seems to hurt a little bit more.  Maybe it’s the personal guilt of not knowing the signs?  Maybe it’s the feeling that you could have helped if you only knew?  Or maybe it’s just the unanswered question of “why” that plays on repeat inside us all.  No matter the causes or the reasons the end result cannot be reversed.  All we can do is appreciate the time we had and give thanks for the memories that will never fade.  So my lasting memory of Dave won’t be a back side rodeo or even a triple whip.  It will be of a pioneer that told an entire generation to go ahead and try it, you never know, you might just stick the landing.

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