On Thursday, Dave Mirra, 41, the BMX freestyle rider who held the record for the most X Games medals in history until Bob Burnquist broke it in 2013, was found dead in an apparent suicide.
Greenville, North Carolina, police discovered Mirra’s body in a truck, dead from a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was married with two children.
Only hours before his death, his wife Lauren posted an Instagram photo of the two of them, captioned, “My rock! Thank God.”
Mirra had won 14 gold medals in ESPN’s X Games, medaling every year from 1995 to 2008, eventually totaling 24 career medals. Only Mirra and Shaun White won multiple golf medals in three separate X games. Two video games featured him. And he served as the the host of MTV’s “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” for two seasons.
Twitter was inundated with condolences:
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
I’m in complete shock. Angry, heart broken and just sad at the passing of my friend Dave. Heart broken 4 his daughters and wife. #DaveMirra
— Carey Hart (@hartluck) February 5, 2016
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) February 5, 2016
So sad to hear about the passing of Dave Mirra a great athlete with so much talent – we have great memories. pic.twitter.com/DECQnIDls3
— Prodrive (@prodrive) February 5, 2016
Rest in Peace Dave Mirra. Thank you for pushing the boundaries of what was possible. You are a legend.
— Brian Kachinsky (@bkachinsky) February 5, 2016
— TeamShaunWhite (@ShaunWhite_TM86) February 5, 2016
ESPN released a statement saying, “Dave Mirra, your courage, determination and natural skill in everything you pursued pushed the world of action sports to become a better place. From all of us at X Games and ESPN, we salute your contributions. Our sincere condolences go out to Dave’s wife, Lauren, his daughters Mackenzie and Madison, the BMX community and friends of Dave Mirra.”
Mirra’s rise to stardom began at the age of 13 in Chittenango, New York, when the Haro Bikes BMX team picked him up as a co-sponsored rider. He soon showed his expertise at flatland and ramp riding, unusual at the time. The next year, 1988, the Plywood Hoods publicized him in videos from the “Dorkin’ In York” series.
In 1989, GT Bicycles and Vision Street Wear put him on their team, where he stayed until he joined Mat Hoffman’s Hoffman Bikes in early 1992, when Mirra turned pro.
In December 1993, Mirra was walking, carrying a pizza, when he was hit by a drunk driver traveling 45 mph; his skull and shoulder were fractured and he developed a blood clot on the brain. In 1994, he resigned with Haro Bicycles.
But then his moment came; in 1995, at the inaugural Extreme Games in Newport, Rhode Island, Mirra won a silver medal in BMX Vert, triggering a series of gold medals that launched BMX riding into the stratosphere. Mirra dominated BMX magazine covers for the next five years. His ascent was climaxed in 2000, at the X Games in San Francisco, where he landed the first double backflip in competition.
After that, DC Shoes sold a signature shoe featuring Mirra, he was celebrated in BMX videos, and wrote a book titled, “Mirra Images.” He reached his place as the most decorated athlete in the X games at X Games X in Los Angeles, 2004. Mirra launched his own bicycle brand Mirraco along with competing in BMX Big Air in the X Games.
By 2008, Mirra transitioned to Rally Car racing, which lasted until 2013; he finished in fourth place in the Global Rallycross Championship series in 2013. Shifting gears yet again, he started competing in triathlons; in 2015 he finished 109th in the 2015 Ironman in Lake Placid, New York.