He Followed in His Famous Dad's Daredevil Footsteps

Robbie Knievel, son of Evel Knievel, has died at the age of 60
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2023 7:00 AM CST

Robbie Knievel, son of stuntman Evil Knievel and a daredevil performer in his own right, has died at the age of 60. Robbie Knievel died Friday in hospice in Reno, Nevada, after fighting pancreatic cancer, his brother, Kelly Knievel, tells the AP. Robbie's three daughters were at his side when he passed, Kelly notes. Robbie, who promoted himself as "Kaptain Robbie Knievel," started trying to imitate his famous father—who died in 2007 at the age of 69 after years of failing health—when he was a child, jumping a bike when he was just 4 and making his debut appearance at one of his dad's shows at the age of 8, per TMZ. His first motorcycle was a Honda mini-bike, which the New York Times notes "his father taught him to ride by putting him in a ditch, tying a rope around him, and then yanking him off the seat if he accidentally twisted the throttle too far."

The younger Knievel pulled off more than 350 motorcycle jumps over his lifetime, and he set 20 world records. In 1989, he even completed a heart-stopping jump his father failed at himself, using a custom-designed Honda to leap over the fountains at Las Vegas' Caesars Palace; his father had nearly died when he tried it in 1967. "When I made the jump and said, 'That was for you, Dad,' he ran up and hugged me, with tears in his eyes," Robbie recalled long after that stunt, per the Times. "I had never seen him so emotional." There was also a bit of rivalry between the two men: In a 2019 essay, Robbie Knievel wrote: "My dad struggled with the idea of passing the baton to me. He saw me as one of the many competitors who were trying to out-jump him, but in reality I was his biggest fan."

Robbie Knievel tried his hand at other jobs over his lifetime, including working in a sawmill and bike shop, but he couldn't stay away from the daredevil life. Other feats he was known for included jumping over a row of limos at Las Vegas' Tropicana in 1998; pulling off a building-to-building leap the following year at the Jockey Club in 1999; and crash-landing while jumping over a 220-foot Grand Canyon chasm. He broke his leg in that crash, one of multiple injuries he suffered over his career. "Daredevils don't live easy lives," Kelly Knievel tells the AP. "[Robbie] was a great daredevil. People don't really understand how scary it is what my brother did." Kelly says Robbie will be buried in Butte, Montana, along with other relatives. (More Robbie Knievel stories.)

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