RIP Dave Mirra

RIP to the best bmx rider ever. Bmx will forever suck even more now that Dave is gone. For the last week I've felt unclear what I could post to split milk on this topic, but here are some words from Rally car driver Robert Naughton which I stumbled across on facebook...

"I've been thinking about this for the last few years with my own issues and with Dave Mirra's death it has rekindled some of those thoughts, here are a few of t...hem below. Sorry it's so long but important topic to me. 

 Many of those who have heroes who are professional athletes will never understand or know what it's like to be in the brain of a professional athlete. Many of us have minds that are so busy and cluttered with chaos that the only time we have peace and quiet is when we are competing in our sport, often times these are high-risk sports with little margin for error. There is such an intense focus on what we are doing that for a short period of time all the noise, clutter and problems go away, it truly is meditation at least for me. We will sacrifice everything to make friends, family, sponsors, and everyone else around us smile and think we are the greatest but often times forget to make ourselves happy, despite that courtesy smile that everyone see's on the outside. But that smile is often short-lived as when the celebration is over The quest to win again starts all over. For me my happiness was dictated by victories and race wins therefore creating a roller coaster of highs and lows that everyone around me has to deal with. Often times being criticized by the ones you love, friends, family and the very people you're trying to impress. It's a vicious cycle that overtime takes it's toll on your mind, body and spirit. The very trait that made these people love you is also responsible for what makes them hate you.

 We are so driven to succeed that we subject our bodies and our brains to severe abuse and trauma in that quest to be the best. Concussions are no joke, back in my day you walked it off because you had another Moto or another race, there was no time to let the brain heal. We see it over and over even today especially in action sports where young athletes with busy minds are so desperate or eager to show the world how good they are, they will risk their lives and health more often than not for free.
Over the last few years concussion management has become a hot topic in all sports, I've often wondered if my own memory issues, my mood swings, my general unhappiness at times might be related at least a little bit to the times I woke up sleeping in the dirt.

 Many high-level athletes also have ADD this is a whole other topic that actually helps many of us succeed but is partly responsible for that busy mind that never shuts off. Google search professional athletes and ADD if you want to know more.

 So with that, that never ending pressure many put on themselves to succeed, impress, and make everyone around them happy, the injuries, physical abuse and more importantly the brain injuries, over many years it takes it's toll. At some point that mountain of greatness you've created and or have been chasing your entire life comes crumbling down with avalanche force, most often when your career ends or when you can no longer take the stress and strain. Many professional athletes following their career fall into depression when they no longer have that carrot or tiny star they have been chasing their entire life. When all you've ever known since you were little kid is suddenly done and gone for many athletes it's a very tough transition. (Google search retired athletes depression and suicide).

 For me the two most important things in my world fell apart simultaneously, my racing career and my marriage/family and I didn't have the skill nor the knowledge to deal with it correctly. I fell into depression, anger unhappiness and during these dark times I really started to understand why people decide to take their own lives. (my older brother at 26 put a bullet through his skull to end his misery so for me like many others close to home). Although I don't consider myself suicidal during my own struggles and dark time I felt like I was fully able to understand why people make that choice.

 During this time I happened to have a conversation with one of my childhood heroes Ricky Johnson about my struggles. It actually brought me great comfort but also concern about how many professional athletes and former professional athletes go through these same struggles and either do not know how to reach out for help or are embarrassed to do so. When I questioned Rick as to why he was willing to let me call him or talk to him whenever I needed this is what he said, "I don't want my friends to to go to the dark places I've been" or something along those lines. What I learned from that is that one of my childhood heroes somebody who was the greatest of his time, when his career came to an early end due to injury he really struggled for a lot of years just like I was now. Somebody that many of us thought was invincible has had the same struggles as me and you. It truly was a blessing to have Rick to talk to you during my rough times because unlike somebody who's never been a professional athlete he had been there done that and was willing to share it with me and help me through my struggles and for that I am grateful.  

 So why am I writing all this? Because I think those of us who have been professional athletes regardless of our accomplishments have something to offer our fellow struggling athletes Who may be struggling just as Rick did for me. If you are a former professional athlete who has struggled with life post career you even have more to offer. The industry that pushes these athletes to reach the greatest heights, remember that athlete will come down sooner or later and that support you gave each other during the high times needs to be there during the low.

 To the people or fans who want to criticize someone who has taken their own life as being selfish or self-centered, that brain that enabled them to become your hero is often fighting battle or struggle you will never know anything about. Often times that struggle or that battle within is why they became your or many others hero.

 It's a shame Dave is gone but hopefully the loss to his family, friends and fans can somehow be turned into a positive by helping others in his situation find another option or way to deal with the pain and struggles within. I can guarantee you there are many other people, athletes, former professionals, and friends of yours who have or are dealing with the same struggles Dave was dealing with and you don't even know it. How can you help them or how can they reach out to you before it's too late?

Thanks for reading,


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