From New York Magazine

newyorkmagainzeThe men are sweet when they talk to me, like boys eager to please the teacher. These are BMX riders — current and former, amateur and pro — mourning Dave Mirra, the Michael Jordan of their sport, who committed suicide in February. He sat in the cab of his truck near his home in Greenville, North Carolina, and shot himself with his own gun. He was 41 years old, with two young daughters and a wife. Mirra had recently been feeling lonely and lost, his friends tell me, but it never occurred to them, or most of them, to worry for his life.

“These are grown men on little bikes, hucking themselves 40 feet in the air,” says Jason Richardson, a pro BMX racer turned sports psychologist. The chance of death is a fact of life for all extreme athletes, but the whole point, the job description, is to defy or outwit it — certainly not to just surrender. “At some point in every rider’s career,” says Richardson, “the only way to get better is to accept the real risk that you’ll get bleep-bleep-bleeped up. That’s the choice. To me, it’s a special choice.”