BMX rider Dave Mirra, who for years dominated his sport even as he helped others embrace it, has died at age 41. Police in Greenville, N.C., say they found Mirra “sitting in a truck with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
Police found Mirra in a parked vehicle shortly after he had visited friends in Greenville, where he had lived for years as an active member of the community. Mirra is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Mirra’s athletic gifts resulted in 14 gold medals at the X Games — an international competition where he won medals every year from 1995 to 2008. (He was forced to miss the 2006 games due to injury.) For a sense of how integral Mirra was to his sport, consider that the X Games were first held in the summer of 1995.
Those achievements, and his engaging personality, also brought Mirra fame, from appearances on David Letterman’s show to having two video games named for him, and many appearances on ESPN and MTV, where he hosted two seasons of the network’s Real World/Road Rules Challenge.
His death prompted local news WNCT sports director Brian Bailey to say, “Dave Mirra was to BMX what Michael Jordan was to the NBA, what Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron was to Major League Baseball: He was simply the best of the best.”
Skateboarder Tony Hawk, a longtime friend and colleague of Mirra’s, said in a tweetlast night, “Goodbye Dave Mirra, a true pioneer, icon and legend. Thank you for the memories… we are heartbroken.”…
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) may have played a part in this action by Mirra. CNN notes that football players are not the only athletes that need to be worried about this disease:
3. Football players aren’t the only ones who need to worry about CTE
Despite all the talk about football players, they aren’t the only ones concerned about CTE. The disease has been diagnosed in soccer and baseball players, and possibly even in military veterans. In fact, the first mention of CTE was a disease in boxers called “dementia pugilistica” or “punch-drunk” syndrome in a 1928 issue of the Journal of American Medical Association. The article said, “For some time, fans and promoters have recognized a peculiar condition occurring among prize fighters which, in ring parlance, they speak of as ‘punch drunk.’ Fighters in whom the early symptoms are well recognized are said by the fans to be ‘cuckoo,’ ‘goofy,’ ‘cutting paper dolls,’ or ‘slug nutty.'”
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains the causes and symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, more commonly known as CTE.