Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel, the motorcycle daredevil infamous for his highly publicized motorcycle jumps over 13 buses, live sharks and Idaho’s Snake River Canyon, has died, according to his Web site. He was 69 years old.
Knievel’s death was additionally confirmed Friday (November 30) by his granddaughter, Krysten Knievel. While an official cause of death has yet to be determined, it was known that Knievel’s health had been failing in recent years — he suffered from diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable condition that scars the lungs. He also contracted hepatitis C from a blood transfusion 15 years go, following a horrific spill.
The news of Knievel’s death comes just days after the stuntman and Kanye West amicably settled a trademark-infringement lawsuit, filed by Knievel against West, during a recent meeting at Knievel’s home in Tampa, Florida. The suit, which was formally filed by the stuntman in December 2006, was instigated by the rapper’s video for the song “Touch the Sky,” in which West is depicted as a daredevil named “Kanyievel,” who makes a grand stunt jump over the Grand Canyon in a mini-rocket.
Dubbed by Washington’s Smithsonian Institution as “America’s Legendary Daredevil,” Knievel was best known for his failed 1974 attempt to jump Snake River Canyon on a rocket-powered cycle, as well as a memorable crash he experienced at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. After the latter accident, he spent the month in a coma, and in 1989, his son, Robbie — following in his father’s footsteps — successfully completed the same jump.
According to some estimates, Knievel suffered close to 40 broken bones before retiring in 1980. He’d tried to retire twice before — once on May 31, 1975, and then again, on October 26, 1975 — but they didn’t stick.
Knievel was married twice. His first marriage was to Linda Bork in 1959, and the couple had four children together before divorcing in 1997. His second marriage, to Crystal Kennedy, lasted from 1999 to 2001, and also ended in divorce.