Officials suggest extreme sports star, Dave Mirra, 41, was suffering brain disease from a lifetime of hard crashes before he shot himself

Did suicidal BMX legend Dave Mirra have CTE? Officials suggest extreme sports star, 41, was suffering brain disease from a lifetime of hard crashes before he shot himself

BMX legend Dave Mirra was found dead in his truck of an apparent suicide on Thursday, and now officials are suggesting a brain injury may have caused him to become depressed.

The 41 year old, who also hosted two seasons of the popular MTV show Real World/Road Rules Challenge, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while visiting his family in Greenville, North Carolina, according to local police.

He was discovered in his car less than 1,000 feet from a local high school, just after meeting up with a friend.

He leaves behind a wife, Lauren, and two daughters, Mackenzie and Madison.

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Tragedy: Dave Mirra was found dead in his truck of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot would on Thursday afternoon in Greenville, North Carolina

Tragedy: Dave Mirra was found dead in his truck of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot would on Thursday afternoon in Greenville, North Carolina

Scene: Mirra's truck is seen being towed away on Thursday. Mirra was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound

Scene: Mirra’s truck is seen being towed away on Thursday. Mirra was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound

At a Friday morning press conference, officials seemed to suggest that head injuries sustained during his years of BMX riding may have had an adverse effect on Mirra’s mental health.

The condition CTE has been in the spotlight lately, with many researchers looking into whether there’s a connection between head injuries sustained in sports like football with issues like depression and dementia.

Depression is a symptom of CTE and multiple football players who have committed suicide have been diagnosed with CTE posthumously. The disease can only be diagnosed during an autopsy.

‘This is a young man…that had a pretty rugged sports career and took a lot of injuries,’ Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas said Friday.

‘You have to give pause and think and wonder, just as we hear about brain trauma in football and other sports and activities, whether that played a factor.’

Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas seemed to suggest that Mirra may have suffered from CTE when he said the BMX biker 'had a pretty rugged sports career and took a lot of injuries'

Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas seemed to suggest that Mirra may have suffered from CTE when he said the BMX biker ‘had a pretty rugged sports career and took a lot of injuries’

‘I don’t know if that’s the case but…it really gives pause to think about someone who put his life out there, his body out there, for so many years if that’s something.

WHAT IS CTE?

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head. This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.

Source: Boston University CTE Center

‘I hope we’re able to solve that mystery,’ Thomas said, before referencing Junior Seau – a former pro-football linebacker who committed suicide in 2012.

Thomas went on to say that he had even talked with Mirra just two hours before his death, and that he seemed fine.

He says he ran into Mirra outside of a restaurant around 1.30pm and that they spoke for about 20 minutes about Mirra’s plans to teach local children about cycling sports.

‘I wish I could’ve picked up on something – anything, go back to Dave and just put an arm around him. Say, “look brother you have two beautiful girls who need you. Nothing is more important than that. We will get this figured out,”‘ Thomas wrote on his Facebook on Thursday.

Thomas said he is still processing the tragedy and that he hopes out of Mirra’s death ‘lives might be saved across this community’.

‘Dave Mirra was more than just a sports figure… he’s a loving member of this community, and that remains,’ Thomas said

Family: The 41-year-old BMX legend, who hosted two seasons of Real World/Road Rules Challenge, leaves behind a wife and two daughters (pictured above on Facebook)

Last comment: Mirra posted two Instagram photos shortly before he killed himself, one of him and his wife

Last comment: Mirra posted two Instagram photos shortly before he killed himself, one of him and his wife

The second post (above) was a photo of himself riding his bike, the caption reading the school near where his body was found

The second post (above) was a photo of himself riding his bike, the caption reading the school near where his body was found

 The Triumph Project – Why we TRI with Dave Mirra

At the press conference, Greenville Police chief Mark Holtzman said that Mirra was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on the 200 block of Pinewood Road around 4pm on Thursday.

The friend who had been visiting with Mirra just before the suicide was shocked to hear about it, Hotlzman said.

When asked if the BMX rider had dealt with depression, Hotlzman said it was apparent Mirra had been struggling with issues but he wouldn’t go into specifics.

Mirra posted two Instagram photos shortly before he was found dead, one of him and his wife and a photo of himself riding his bike, with a caption reading where his body was found.

‘My rock! Thank god,’ wrote Mirra alongside the photo of his wife.

The last photo, of himself riding his bike, was posted just moments before his body was discovered and said; ‘Rose high school Greenville Nc.’

He also posted a picture of himself boxing on Wednesday, writing; ‘Fight to win! We all have a battles to fight. Never back down. Love you all. #diewithyourbootson.’

His family said that they would appreciate privacy during this very difficult time.

‘Dave‘s wife and family are shocked and saddened by the loss of such a remarkable person whom they loved so deeply,’ Mirra’s agent and friend  Steve Astephen said in statement. ‘Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers and for respecting their privacy through this difficult time.’