Any athlete having reached the pinnacle of their respective sport will undoubtedly tell you the road was paved with numerous failures, backed by a hell of a lot of battle scars for proof. The same holds painfully true for Stephen Murray, who in his first year of pro competition, broke 7 bones and suffered 3 concussions. But this was par for the course, and instead of being discouraged, he was rather infused with the courage and determination to keep fighting for his dreams.
Immersing himself in the BMX scene after making the permanent move to California, Stephen soon saw himself competing alongside his idols and would be legends of the sport; guys like TJ Lavin, Ryan Nyquist, and (then roommate) Cory Nastazio. Having the confidence to compete at this level, he realized his first big win was soon within reach.
Nastazio and Murray kept their focus on practice in the meantime, building massive jumps in their backyard and hitting them non-stop, putting in the necessary work to be ready come time for competition. In his first contest of 2001, a qualifing competition for the X-Games at Lake Perris, Stephen rode the way he knew he could, dominating his run's, leaving him one to spare. Using that last run to test out a new trick, Stephen sent it on a double back-flip, nose-casing the last landing and knocking himself out cold.
"When I came to, everybody was telling me that I had won the contest and had qualified for the X-Games," remembers Stephen. "Driving away from that contest, I realized I was starting to live my dream.”
Stephen went on to win both the X-Games and Gravity Games later that same year, exploding onto the scene and solidifying his name among the elite ranks of BMX riders. He credits his success to his strong mentality and attitude of knowing that he could achieve the impossible. With this success came large sponsorships and the comfort of no longer having to scrape by.
"When I became a fully sponsored BMX rider, I realized that the days of sleeping on other peoples couches and forever digging trails had been the apprenticeship for my new found career as a professional rider. I now no longer needed to wonder how I was going to pay the rent or who I had to hitch a ride from. I was able to pay my own way and look after myself." When asked about the peak of his career, Stephen says, “I was on top of the world and no other feeling came close.”
Part 4 will explore the inherent risks surrounding actions sports. 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.
Part 2 - The Early Years
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