BMX riders share a special bond that’s easy to see but harder to describe. When Stephen picked up his entire life to move to California, it sure as hell wasn’t easy to leave everything behind. But what he didn’t have to worry about was the burden of feeling alone; rather he was welcomed with open arms by athletes alike. Most of his new friends had traveled from far and wide themselves, following similar dreams of making it in the world of BMX.
“… we had a strong bond, loved what we were doing, and it didn't seem like a job.” – Stephen Murray
In a sport void of formal coaching and teams in the manner of which we are accustomed to seeing with organized sports, BMX riders and action sport athletes alike are required to adapt. Relying on one another for coaching and tips, their support becomes an integral part of their progression as riders. It’s ironic when you really think about it, one’s literal competition also serving as their unofficial teammate. This reality separates action sport athletes apart from their mainstream contemporaries. What’s perceived as a potential weakness becomes their strength and leading characteristic. These shared aspirations and goals keep each other focused on reaching the next level. When one rider pushes the limits, it sets the bar for other riders to go beyond their known abilities. The support these athletes have for one another is arguably stronger than many mainstream sports we see everyday and it has shown in the years following Stephen’s accident.
Stephen had been a part of a family of riders in his new home, guys he came up through the ranks with, grinding it out and sticking together through all of the highs and the lows the sport has to offer. After his career-ending accident, Stephen woke up to those familiar faces, forever supporting him the way they supported each other when they rode; guys like TJ Lavin, Cory Nastazio, Mat Hoffman and Marco Dell'Isola.
“Without my BMX family, life wouldn't be the same. They lifted me up when I was at my lowest and for that, I am truly thankful and grateful and will never forget it.”
A few years ago, Stephen actually had a BMX course built at his old home; a way of giving back to the community of riders that had given him so much over the years. But even more so perhaps, it was a way for him to remain involved in the sport that is still so much apart of his life. It’s served as the course for many events, and has been a sanctuary for riders to use and come kick it with Stephen whenever they’d like. It’s even breaking in the next generation of Murray riders, Stephen’s two young sons - Seth and Mason.
The BMX community has also stepped up to support him financially as well, hosting benefits and fundraisers in a big way. In a recent crowdfunding effort, set up to help alleviate costs of his move from California back home to the UK, more than $13,000 was raised.
Mind you, it’s been nine years since the crash, but the community of people he’s inspired still rallies around him and will forever have his back. And while Stephen may be back in the UK now, reunited with his immediate family, he’ll always have his other family back in the states.
Follow along as we continue to recount all aspects of Stephen's amazing story. In the meantime, be sure to check out the latest products hitting the shop. From now through the end of September, 10% of your purchase will go towards supporting Stephen Murray.
Joseph Miller is a freelance writer based in Richmond, VA. He received his BS in Creative Advertising from Virginia Commonwealth University. In between writing editorials and content pieces, Joseph is currently training for his first half marathon, though his love for snacks may stunt his performance. www.josephhuntermiller.com