BMX Legend Dave Mirra Dead At 41: Here’s Why He’s An Action Sports Icon

BMX star, rally car driver, and former MTV Real World/Road Rules Challenge host Dave Mirra died yesterday at the age of 41, from a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound. Soon after the news, fellow athletes, artists and celebrities remembered his influence on the sport and culture.

In action sports, there are some athletes that are so dominant for so long that even to the casual mainstream observer they become synonymous with the sport itself. Surfing has Kelly Slater, skateboarding has Tony Hawk, snowboarding has Shaun White, and BMX has Dave Mirra.
Some might argue Mat Hoffman holds that distinction, but thanks to his video game series that ran from 2000 to 2007–Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX, it’s two sequels, and Dave Mirra BMX Challenge–Mirra’s name recognition and influence is huge to many kids who never stepped foot on a bike, but knew him well from hours playing Playstation, Gameboy, and Sega Dreamcast. In the last few years, he followed in the footsteps of snowboarder-turned-Gymkhana star Ken Block to become a celebrated rally car driver, sponsored by Subaru.

Dave MirraPhoto: Geoff Sloan, Wikimedia

Not only was he one one of the most decorated athletes in the history of ESPN’s X Games history, winning medals every year from 1995 to 2008, including 14 gold, Mirra was also able to translate his skills on the bike and in the car into successful business and brand partnerships. In addition to his own bike brand Mirraco, over the years Mirra appeared in ads for Oxy, Wendy’s, Subaru, Playstation, and Adidas.

Check out some of Mirra’s best tricks and ads in the slide show above.