David Michael "Dave" Mirra, the BMX and X Games star, has died of an apparent suicide, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Mirra was found in his truck in Greenville, North Carolina, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to a statement released by the Greenville Police Department.
Born April 4, 1974, Mirra held the record for most X Games medals until 2013 – 24 total, 14 of them gold – and medaled in every X Games from the games' inception in 1995 up to 2009. He was a versatile rider who could easily handle both flatland and ramp riding in a world of extreme sports in which most competitors are specialists. His skilled riding was one of the factors that took BMX from the sidelines of extreme sports into the mainstream.
Among Mirra's achievements was a BMX first that he performed at the 2000 X Games: He was the first to do a double backflip in competition, winning a gold medal for the feat. While it was a career high point, it was far from a peak performance. Mirra would continue to excel in the BMX world throughout the 2000s, winning the 2005 ESPY Award for best male action sports athlete, until his final BMX X Games appearance in 2009. A serious injury in Salt Lake City in 2010 prompted thoughts of retirement; the following year, he rode in his last BMX competition. Of his retirement from BMX, he told ESPN, "I got to a point where I really couldn't take getting injured anymore in the name of progression. … I didn't want to be out there just rolling around to make endorsement money when I could no longer be at my best."
After his impressive multiyear X Games run, Mirra may have put away his bike, but he didn't leave the competitive sports world. Instead, he shifted his focus, turning first to rally car racing. He became a driver for Subaru Rally Team USA with a career best of fourth place in the 2013 Global Rallycross Championship series.
In 2012, Mirra discovered triathlons – specifically, the long-distance Ironman competitions – and threw himself into the new sport. "I was never a swimmer or a runner before I began Ironman training," he told Sports Illustrated in 2015. "I started biking longer distances, doing some running, and it felt really cool. I'd say that's when I really fell in love with it." He described his Ironman training regimen in the same interview: "Saturdays will be a 112-117 mile bike ride. On Sundays, I'll run for two and a half, maybe three hours. Swimming is all about consistency: I'll do 3,000-5,000 yards in the pool three to four times a week."
Mirra's sports fame brought him opportunities in the entertainment world as well. He hosted two seasons of "Real World/Road Rules Challenge" on MTV, beginning in 2004. He was noted for extreme biking prowess in video games, such as the "Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX" series and 2009's "Colin McRae: Dirt 2."
As news of the BMX legend's death broke, he was remembered by other extreme sports superstars, as well as by his famous fans. Racer Carey Hart tweeted, "I'm in complete shock. Angry, heartbroken and just sad at the passing of my friend Dave." A tweet from skateboarder Tony Hawk read, "Goodbye Dave Mirra, a true pioneer, icon and legend. Thank you for the memories ... we are heartbroken." Rapper Lupe Fiasco tweeted, "Celebrate the life of a genius! BMX Legend!!!!!!" Nickelback's Mike Kroeger offered, "This guy made me want to ride halfpipe on a bike. RIP Dave Mirra. You left a mark on me."
Mirra is survived by his wife, Lauren, and their two daughters, Maddie and Kenzie.
Published by The Daily Reflector on Feb. 4, 2016.