BMX Legend Dave Mirra Suffered From Drug Addiction, Mental Illness Before Death

By David Konow 08/08/16

The 41-year-old X Games champion committed suicide back in early February. 

BMX Legend Dave Mirra Suffered From Drug Addiction, Mental Illness Before Death
Photo ET/YouTube

Dave Mirra, the late BMX racing star who once held the record for most X Games medals, sadly ended his life on February 4 at the age of 41. After Mirra’s passing, it was reported that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative neurological disorder developed from sustaining severe blows to the head.

Mirra indeed suffered many head injuries through his career, including a fractured skull when he was hit by a car when he was 19, but TMZ is now reporting that Mirra also suffered from drug addiction and depression before he took his life, according to his family: “Per family, he had been recently suffering from depression and heavy drug abuse.” TMZ obtained Mirra's medical examiner's report and confirmed that he shot himself in the head on February 4. 

However, the toxicology report states that there were no traces of drugs in Mirra’s system at the time of his death, spare for a little alcohol in his bloodstream.

According to Outside magazine, Mirra had a hard time picking up the pieces when he finally left sports, falling into depression and feeling rudderless. But he found a new outlet for his work ethic when he developed an interest in doing triathlons and Ironman competitions. (At the time of his death, Mirra was building a new ramp so he could train.)

Before his death, one of his peers, TJ Lavin, told Outside that when he saw Mirra drinking a lot, he told him, “Dave, you’ve developed some bad habits and it’s not a good look.” Lavin also expressed concern to a friend, saying, “We’ve got to watch that guy. He’s pretty down.” According to New York magazine, some of Mirra’s friends speculated he may have been addicted to painkillers as well.

Mirra’s accomplishments as a BMX racer include winning 24 X Games medals, as well as a bronze medal in rallycross racing. (Mirra’s wins are still a strong second behind Shaun White’s.) When Tony Hawk retired from skateboarding, Mirra was looked at as a new icon for kids who loved extreme sports. His suicide was confounding to many of his peers because, as BMX racer Mat Hoffman said, “He was the one who had it the most together out of all of us.” 

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.