We lost a great person yesterday.
Dave Mirra was one of the most decorated action sport athletes of all time. A BMX megastar, his name is synonymous with his sport. When I met him a decade ago, he was just taking up a new challenge: rally racing. Instantly likeable, Dave wore his heart on his sleeve. He was passionate and intense, but with an inescapable kindness and humility. That huge grin. As a reporter at the time, I appreciated his bare honesty: he said exactly what he was thinking in the heat of the moment. But no matter how angry he was, or frustrated, he was never mean. He never put anybody else down to boost himself up. He was the picture of integrity.
I got to know him in motorsport paddocks: first in small towns across America on the U.S. rally circuit, and then in the international cities of the rallycross championships he raced. I met his family and, while we were never close, I knew them from Dave’s devotion. He loved them fiercely and made a point of modeling his dedication through the “Be a Dad, not a fad” campaign.
Today, a day after his apparent suicide, some people are angry. They’re mad at Dave for cutting his life short. For robbing his beautiful family of their future together and for causing them pain. That’s understandable in the face of such a malignant act. But it isn’t what I feel.
I know the suffocating weight of depression; the inescapable fallacy that death would free your loved ones from the poisonous burden of having you around. In moments of clarity, it’s obvious how wrong that is. Yet when the black dog is all around you, isolation is the only thing that feels real.
So many people loved Dave. My heart aches for his family and closest friends whose pain is most acute. There will be countless tributes in the days to come. We’ll remember what made Dave special to us: The kindness. The humility. The passion. And let’s not forget that generous smile.
But let’s also not forget the depression that took his life. It’s a disorder that reaches beyond this tragedy and, we’re learning, it is one that will affect a disproportionate number of our friends and loved ones who’ve pushed physical limits and felt the consequence of brain injury. Whatever the cause, though, we need to talk about this. Depression feeds on the power of silence and so let’s starve it out of our lives. Today, tell somebody you care about why they’re special to you. Call a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Reach out with a text ‘hello.’ Create a conversation that’s free of judgment. Just start talking.
Rest in peace, Dave. You are loved and you are missed.