BMX icon Dave Mirra, who died in February, suffered from the type of chronic brain damage that has shown up in the brains of dozens of football players, a University of Toronto neuropathologist has concluded. Multiple neuropathologists confirmed the diagnosis.
Mirra is the first action sports athlete to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia, memory loss and depression. He died on Feb. 4 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Most scientists believe that CTE is a result of repeated, or subconcussive, hits to the the head. The concern is that each time the head takes a pounding, it shakes the brain inside the skull.
That can lead to a buildup of an abnormal protein called tau, which can take over parts of the brain.
CTE can result in Alzheimer’s disease-like symptoms, including memory loss, rage and mood swings.
Mirra’s wife, Lauren said in a statement:
“We would like to thank our family, friends and the overwhelming number of Dave’s fans who have supported us during this difficult time … We ask for your continued support in honoring Dave’s legacy and for your patience as we plan to create a platform for CTE awareness and research.”
Mirra will be inducted into the National BMX Hall of Fame in Chula Vista, California, on June 11. He will also be honored June 4 during this year’s X Games in Austin, Texas, with a new event named for him, the Dave Mirra BMX Park Best Trick competition. The winner will be awarded the Mirra Golden Pedal and prize money.