Dave Mirra, the near-peerless pro–BMX biker who went on to become one of the X Games’ winningest competitors, as well as a TV host, was found dead Thursday of an apparent suicide. Greenville authorities in North Carolina discovered the 41-year-old athlete in his parked truck there earlier in the day, with what they’re calling “a self-inflicted gunshot wound.” “We mourn the loss today of a great friend and wonderful human being who touched the lives of so many around the world with his gift,” Greenville’s mayor said in a statement. “[Mirra] called Greenville, North Carolina home and was as humble a guy talking with kids on a street corner about bikes as he was in his element on the world stage. A young life with so much to offer was taken too soon.”
The New York native’s passion for extreme sports began at the age of five. It would persist until his death in the form of a lengthy, two-decade-plus career, punctuated by 24 X Games medals (14 gold), the first-ever double backflip in a contest, and a late switch to RallyCross and triathlons, among numerous other feats. Similar to the impact Mark Gonzalez, Rodney Mullen, and Tony Hawk had on skateboarding, Mirra became one of the global faces synonymous with BMX.
“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,” ESPN said in a statement published late Thursday. As a dominant park and vert force, Mirra ultimately helped bring BMX more into the mainstream, and pushed the limits of what was doable.
Off the bike, Mirra served a brief stint as the host of MTV’s Real World/Road Rules Challenge, lent his name to a popular video-game series, and reinforced Greenville’s (a.k.a. “Pro Town“) status as a major BMX hub for top-tier riders. He also appeared on other such shows as Nitro Circus, Fantasy Factory, Punk’d, and George Lopez. Mirra is survived by his wife and two children.
This post has been updated throughout.