Evel Knievel, the red-white-and-blue-spangled motorcycle daredevil whose jumps over crazy obstacles including Greyhound buses, live sharks and Idaho’s Snake River Canyon made him an international icon in the 1970s, died Friday. He was 69.

Knievel’s death was confirmed by his granddaughter, Krysten Knievel. He had been in failing health for years, suffering from diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable condition that scarred his lungs.

“They started out watching me bust my ass, and I became part of their lives,” Knievel said. “People wanted to associate with a winner, not a loser. They wanted to associate with someone who kept trying to be a winner.” LINK

If you grew up in the 70’s & 80’s like I did you will remember the Superman of Stunt men Evel Knievel. He was for me and most boys my age the coolest thing in the world and possibly the greatest Daredevil of all time. I remember watching him make his jumps on “Wide World of Sports” and other specials. I look back fondly on that time in my life and on what Evel meant now that he has passed. Ironically Wyatt at SYLG blogged about him just yesterday. I literally was too tired to post about him in reply so I let it go. Evel Knievel holds a special place in my childhood so I didn’t think I could do it briefly. Now he’s dead at age 69.

For many people he was a hero. I never really looked at him like that. For me, it is more about what he represented that’s important. Evel represented the real American Man to a lot of us. Daring, fearless, straight talking, proud, hard living, innovative, driven, hard working, flawed, spiritual, resilient. All these characteristics make up the classic American Icon that Evel Knievel always will be. He was bigger than life and though he wasn’t always a proper role model, like all of us he was human.

We all have our flaws and our ups and downs as we make this journey through life. We watched Evel practically all the way. In a lot of ways he was the first reality show superstar. We watched some of his greatest triumphs and failures live on TV. We saw the thrill of success on his face when he made a successful jump, and the anxiety of the crowd when he crashed. It was TV human drama in it’s infancy. After every stunt he did we would go outside and build ramps and jump our bicycles off them. I owe my love of motorcycles to Evel Knievel to this day.

We all have fond memories of the daring man in white leather, putting it all on the line for us with every jump. Each time trying to go a little further, risking a little more, then thanking us all for our support. Unlike some of today’s fake celebrities Evel was never afraid to thank God or America for his good fortune. In an Internet age where real Icons are few and far between, there will never be another Evel Knievel. God Bless and God Speed Evel Knievel. Rest In Peace.


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