In Praise of Dave Mirra, BMX Legend

The 41-year-old X-Games legend was found dead on Thursday.

Dave Mirra, one of the most influential BMX riders of all-time, died Thursday of what Greenville, North Carolina police believe was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In his death, the world of extreme sports has lost one of its most vocal and devoted advocates.

The 41-year-old was an internationally recognized icon in the BMX world who helped take the sport to new levels. A native of upstate New York, Mirra became a professional BMX rider in 1992 at the age of 18. He spent the next decade dominating the X-Games, where he won 24 medals, a record that stood until 2013. In that time he also helped turn Greenville into the center of the BMX world. There are now so many professional riders living there, they’ve taken to calling it “ProTown.”

Mirra didn’t just rule the game, but helped bring BMX into popular culture with his incredible skill and personality. He was, in a sense, the Tony Hawk of BMX, so far that the video game developer Acclaim Entertainment made Mirra the first rider with his own title by releasing Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX in 2000. His unbelievable talent and dedication to promoting his sport with young fans made him an key cog in the extreme sports boom of  the late 90s and won him acolytes around the world.

Mirra’s star was so bright that he was soon dabbling in other areas of sports and entertainment. In 2004 he began hosting MTV’s The Challenge. He played himself on a handful of TV shows and appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman twice, no small feat for an extreme athlete. In 2011 he became a pro rally cross driver and recently turned his focus to triathlons and Ironman competitions.

Mirra was a phenomenal all-around athlete who happened to choose the bike. We’re glad he did. Rest in peace, friend.

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