Dave Mirra did not leave a suicide note before taking his life on Thursday night, but a message left on Instagram just hours before his suicide could offer insight into the battles the BMX legend was facing.
Mirra was found dead inside his car on Thursday, the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Mirra was remembered as one of the pioneers of BMX racing, who helped bring ESPN's X-Games to national prominence. His death left those around him shocked.
In what may have been a foretelling sign, Mirra posted a picture of himself from one of his new athletic endeavors, boxing, along with a cryptic note.
"Fight to win! We all have a battles to fight. Never back down. Love you all. #diewithyourbootson"
Mirra also posted a separate message to his wife, Lauren Blackwell Mirra. He posted a picture of the two smiling together and holding champagne glasses, and included the caption, "My rock! Thank god"
There is speculation as to what could have led to Dave Mirra's suicide. Mark Holtzman, police chief in Greenville, said Mirra had just visited a friend where the two discussed their plans for the future.
"There is absolutely nothing that would lead us to believe this was an accident," Holtzman said. "The detectives conducted interviews at the scene with several individuals, family members. Everything in this case points to a suicide."
Holtzman said no suicide note was found in the car or near Dave Mirra, USA Today reported.
But one other local official had a theory about Mirra's suicide. Greenville mayor Allen Thomas speculated during a new conference that he could have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the brain disease commonly known as CTE. This affliction has struck many former NFL players and other athletes who often suffer head injuries during their careers and has led to a lack of impulse control among other symptoms.
A number of athletes diagnosed with CTE, including NFL legend Junior Seau, have committed suicide. Medical researchers are still trying to better understand CTE and its effects. It is caused by repeated brain injuries, but to date, it can only be diagnosed after death and only by way of an autopsy of the brain.
"This is young man that had a pretty had a pretty rugged sports career and took a lot of injuries in his career," said Thomas, a friend of Mirra (via USA Today). "You have to give pause, think and wonder as we hear about brain trauma in football and other sports, whether that played a factor. I don't know if that's a case. I hope we solve this mystery like we did with Junior Seau and others, and learn from this."
Family members have not said yet if they suspect CTE was a contributing factor. Friends and family have also not shared what Mirra was facing that could have driven him to suicide.
Most of the reflection in the day after his suicide has been on Mirra's sports achievements. Dave Mirra was remembered as a gifted athlete, who won a record 14 gold medals at the X Games, and also a radiant personality who made a name for himself as the host of MTV's Real World/Road Rules Challenge.
Mirra's impact even drew comparisons to other athletes whose contributions transcended their sports.
"Dave Mirra was to BMX what Michael Jordan was to the NBA, what Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron was to Major League Baseball: He was simply the best of the best," shared WNCT sports director Brian Bailey.
The notes that Dave Mirra posted on Instagram before his suicide have also turned into de facto memorials for fans, with thousands leaving messages offering condolences and remembering Mirra's impact on the world of sports.
[Image via Instagram]