I remember driving up to Dave Mirra’s house a little less than two years ago. At first I’m greeted by his two Yorkies, Rex and Rocky, who leap off his porch as if they want to kill me. After a couple of pats on the head they trust that I’m not an intruder. A few seconds later I meet his wife, Laruen, who welcomes me into their incredible home that Dave designed by himself. Next come his two beautiful daughters, Madison and Mackenzie (better known by Dave’s nickname of “Madikenzâ€) who run to the door to greet me. They lead me by an array of classic BMX bikes hung on the wall and into the living room, where they had each hung a homemade poster to welcome me to Greenville and thank me for doing a story about their dad. I hadn’t even met Dave yet and already I loved the guy.
I finally head out to a massive garage to meet the man himself, who’s already busy doing some photos with friend and photographer Mark Losey, who I’d commissioned to shoot a cover for Lava. Dave is chilling on the bed of his blacked-out Ford F-150, and for the first time in my career, I’m a bit star-struck. I used to play his video game in high school, and now I’m hanging out in his backyard to do a story about someone I’d idolized since I first learned to ride a bike.
Dave leaps out of the bed of the truck to give me a bro hug and thank me for doing the story. I assure him the pleasure is all mine and tell him that he has the coolest house I’d ever seen. He asks me what the plan is for the shoot, and I say that I’d love to start with some shots of him riding his shiny new Cervelo around his neighborhood.
After he puts on his riding gear, Dave tosses me the keys to the truck so I can drive while Mark shoots off the bed. His girls of course want to come along for the ride, so Madi hops in the passenger seat and immediately starts asking me a million questions about where I’m from and why I’m doing a story on her dad. Kenzie jumps in the back so she can relay messages from Mark about whether I needed to slow down or speed up. I try to focus on keeping the speed steady, but the entire time I can’t stop thinking about how cool it is to be hanging out with Dave Mirra’s kids while I drive his truck.
A few hours ago I walked into my house after a run to find the phone ringing. It was my colleague, Jay Prasuhn, who gave me the terrible news that Dave had apparently shot himself in that very same truck. I’ve hardly been able to move, talk or think since then. All I keep thinking about is that time I met him in his backyard, and what a beautiful family and life he had.
In the time since I first met Dave, I’ve been grateful to get to know him and to welcome him into a sport that was so lucky to have him. I helped put him in touch with a few companies I thought might be interested in sponsoring him, and he’d always text or call to say thanks. He would sometimes call or text to ask for swimming advice. Dave was a great triathlete but a terrible swimmer. Every time he called I would think about how cool it was to have Dave Mirra asking me about how to be a better swimmer.
Dave loved bikes more than anyone I’ve ever met. He loved his wife and girls. He loved fast cars, red wine and flat-brim hats. Dave loved life. I guess that’s why today doesn’t make any sense.
The last time I saw Dave was in Kona, after the 2014 race that he had come to watch. He had a glass of red wine, I had a beer, and we talked about how the next time I saw him on Ali’i Drive he’d be racing. I can’t believe I won’t get to see that day.
I don’t know what else to say other than that I’ll miss you, Dave. You were an amazing person. Thanks for inspiring so many of us.