Dave Mirra, the star BMX rider who killed himself in February, was diagnosed by neuropathologists at the University of Toronto as having C.T.E., a brain disease linked to head trauma.
Mirra’s condition, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, was determined by the doctors at the Canadian Concussion Center, where Mirra’s brain was examined after his death.
“It’s assumed it is related to multiple concussions that happened years before,” Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati told ESPN.
Mirra was a fan favorite, who won 14 gold medals at the X Games and helped popularize freestyle BMX. The BMX pro became the first person ever to land a double back flip in a competition in 2000.
He had a nasty accident in 2006, where he fell 16 feet straight on his head. Dave was also struck by a car at age 19, suffering a fractured skull.
Mirra died from a self-inflicted gunshot in February in Greenville, N.C. He was 41.
He took his own life within days of his 10th wedding anniversary while parked outside the home of his best friend. Just an hour before his death, the 41-year-old posted a poignant photo and message about his wife Lauren.
He captioned the photo of himself and his wife, “My rock. Thank God!!”
C.T.E. can only be diagnosed from a brain examination after death. Dozens of football players have been found to have had it, including Frank Gifford, Junior Seau and Ken Stabler.
The brain disease can affects memory, cognitive function and mood.
His wife, Lauren, told ESPN, “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.”
A photo posted by Dave Mirra (@davemirra) on
The Mirra family, like many families of former N.F.L. players, decided to pursue posthumous brain testing to learn if he had the condition.