(Photo: Dave Mirra, 1993 by Armen Djerrahian)
I first saw and met Dave Mirra at the “Beheading at Reading” BMX contest in what was likely 1990. It was held at the sketchy but amazing outdoor snake-run style cement skatepark in Reading, PA, and I couldn’t have been more of a fish out of water. Rochester had nothing like that, and at that point I had never even ridden a ramp taller than probably five or six feet. My ineptitude made the power and fluidity with which Dave rode the place seem even more amazing.
The one thing I was good at was smashing my bike into stuff and managing to not fall off it, and Dave paid me a compliment for attempting to do so in kind of an interesting way during one of my runs. Although it couldn’t have been further from the truth, it was one of the first times I had felt like a peer of a true superstar BMX rider, and the feeling was one I wouldn’t soon forget. We would cross paths and interact many times in the years to come, and throughout all of it, there was a strong underlying respect for someone that had driven so hard and in turn managed to accomplish even more.
When someone takes their own life there is no amount of thought or reason or logic that can even begin to figure out what was going through their head. In the profoundly sad case of Dave Mirra, that seems even a little bit truer. An American icon, arguably the most talented person to ever step on to a 20″ bike, and having achieved more success in his chosen sport than the sum total of all his competitors, he seemed to be as enviable as they come. But with that kind of achievement almost always comes an imbalanced level of sacrifice, drive, and obsession that in-and-of themselves can take a strong and often unnoticed toll.
Dave Mirra was one of the greatest BMX riders ever, and very seldom does such a heavy distinction come without an equally heavy price.
RIP, and know that your influence will be permanent.