I spent 24 hours with Dave Mirra last April and now that he is no longer among us, I feel terribly sad about the loss of this man, husband and father.
Yes, Dave Mirra was an amazing athlete who seemed to do well in every sport or activity he attempted, but what I remember most was his absolute passion for his family. While we hung out together in Greenville, NC he constantly talked about his wife Lauren and his two young daughters. He was very proud of them and warned me as a newer dad about not getting too occupied with other passions and interests.
"At the end of the day when everyone else has moved on to the next best thing, your family is still there to support you. Never forget that," said Mirra to me on that day in April.
He was however aware that his training and various other obligations pulled him away from his family, so he tried to make it count when he was around.
Mirra also started a social media campaign called #BeADadNotAFad to encourage others to focus on their family instead of just work and play. And he was all over that and worked very hard to spread that word.
When I heard the news last night about his sudden death, I could not believe what I was reading, and certainly not that it could be suicide. In fact when a good friend of Dave Mirra and also a friend of mine sent me a message last night that said "This is hard to say but Dave killed himself tonight. I don't know what to say." My first thought was that he possibly drove too fast and died in an accident. But that turned out to be wrong.
It is very certain though that I will miss him and his great humble attitude.
He had a chance to get a special spot to race the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona but he wanted to earn that spot and not have it handed to him.
"Ellie at Ironman asked if I wanted to race if I did not make it, and I said no and she respected it and was cool with it. There are people who try forever and never make it. I qualified for 70.3 Worlds last year and when I was at the event I looked around and thought If I didn’t make it here on my own I wouldn’t want to be here racing. This is for people who made it and it is not just another race. It is the ultimate," said Dave Mirra in an interview as he got ready for the 2015 IRONMAN Lake Placid.
Some folks have expressed anger with Dave Mirra about that decision to take his life, but I only feel sad and bewildered about his death. I also do not want to spend any time to figure out what may have caused him to make this decision, as I am afraid that we would never truly learn. And to some degree I also do not want to know.
Mostly of course I am absolutely gutted for his family, friends and everyone else who has been touched by him in one way or another.
R.I.P. Dave Mirra