A Toronto-based neuropathologist recently confirmed that an autopsy of BMX star Dave Mirra’s brain found signs of the neurodegenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, according to a report from USA TODAY sports.
In February, Mirra committed suicide at the age of 41 in a way eerily similar to that of NFL stars with CTE like Junior Seau. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Mirra’s family turned to the University of Toronto and the Canadian Concussion Centre to investigate whether his death could be related to CTE. The diagnosis makes Mirra the first action sports athlete to be diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease associated with repeated head impacts. CTE is known to be associated with depression, lack of impulse control, and emotional difficulties.
University of Toronto neuropathologist Lili-Naz Hazrati oversaw the examination and told USA TODAY Sports the brain showed the hallmark evidence of CTE. However, more investigation is needed to properly assess how severe the condition was at the time of his death.
“We still need to do more work to understand the staging,” Hazrati told USA TODAY Sports.
In a public statement thanking the public for their support following Mirra’s death, the family also indicated they plan to help promote CTE awareness and support research efforts.
“We would like to thank our family, friends and the overwhelming number of Dave’s fans who have supported us during this difficult time,” Mirra’s wife, Lauren, said in a statement. “We ask for your continued support in honoring Dave’s legacy and for your patience as we plan to create a platform for CTE awareness and research.”