BMX star Dave Mirra committed suicide in February, but doctors now confirm he was suffering from a disease before his death.
University of Toronto neuropathologist Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati tells ESPN that the 41-year-old had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, better known as CTE.
The brain disease, which was the subject of the movie “Concussion,” is often seen in football and hockey players. It is believed to be caused by repeated head trauma, and symptoms include dementia, memory loss, and depression.
ESPN says Mirra suffered a fractured skull at 19, followed by “countless” concussions as a BMX rider.
Hazrati said that Mirra’s brain looked indistinguishable from those of football and hockey players suffering from the same disease. She also sent his results to neuropathologists around the country, who confirmed her findings.
The tests were done at the request of the Mirra family.
His widow Lauren spoke with ESPN about the results of the tests, saying, "I started to notice changes in his mood. And then it quickly started to get worse. He wasn't able to be present in any situation or conversation, so it was hard to be in a relationship with him to any degree. He was lost. I looked straight through him on a few occasions. And I was like, 'Where are you? Where are you? What is wrong?'”
She continued, "This is the beginning of bringing awareness. It would be amazing if this is something we can detect in life one day. If we can detect it, prevent it, stop it, let's do all of the above."
Mirra was found dead in Greenville, North Carolina, in February. Authorities discovered his body, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, inside his truck. He had been visiting friends in the area.
Dave was an X Games legend, medaling every year from 1995 to 2008.