Skip to comments.Evel Knievel ill, readies gravestone
Posted on 07/21/2005 11:06:03 PM PDT by BigSkyFreeper
TWIN FALLS, Idaho - Evel Knievel may have finally met his match. And he's not going to clear this hurdle.
Renowned for his death-defying stunts, Knievel has now landed in major medical trouble. He says his doctors give him three to five years to live.
Knievel suffers from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that scars the lungs, replacing the air sacs with scar tissue. As the scars form, the tissue becomes thicker, reducing the lung's ability to absorb oxygen. There is no cure.
"I feel pretty good, but there just isn't enough air on this Earth for me compared to you normal people," Knievel said.
The daredevil joins about 200,000 other Americans with the disease. There is no known cause, but researchers believe it may be caused by a genetic predisposition, previous injury to the lungs, viruses and pollutants. Knievel says he has never smoked, though he did work in a copper mine in Montana before making it big as a stunt entertainer.
While rumors about the daredevil's failing health have been buzzing for a few years, his friend Alma Barry in Twin Falls didn't believe them until Knievel called and asked for a gravestone he left in her care to be shipped to him in Butte.
The white marble marker was created to generate publicity about his Snake River Canyon jump more than 30 years ago. Alma Barry and her family got to know Knievel in the seven years he took to build the ramp and plan the jump. The Barrys owned Volco Builders' Supply and helped him build the ramp and press box. The family became such close friends with Knievel that he asked them to store the giant stone marker.
The Barry family sold its business to Franklin Building Supply a few decades ago and asked that the new managers watch over the marker.
It sat in a stockroom for more than 30 years.
"He said he wasn't doing too well and wanted to be buried in Butte and asked if we could send him the gravestone," Barry said. "It is a very beautiful piece. It had the date he was born and the date of the jump and his image on it and a space for in case he didn't make it over the canyon."
Knievel, 66, sent a truck to pick up the stone, and it is now in Butte.
His biggest payday came when he jumped the Snake River Canyon in September 1974 for $6 million. He says his son, Robbie, may also be planning to do a similar jump in Twin Falls. But he doubts it.
"I worked for seven years on that jump, going to Twin Falls for a month each year and working with engineers," he said. "I don't think Robbie has been there once, so he may say he is going to do it, but he isn't putting in the work."
He wants to be buried next to the grandparents who raised him. Knievel was influenced to become a motorcycle daredevil when they took him to Joey Chitwood's Auto Daredevil show when Knievel was 8. But his grandparents were very much against his career choice.
"They encouraged me not to," he said. But Knievel has no regrets, and he encourages young people to follow their passions, too.
"Follow your dreams, no matter what they are or you'll never amount to anything," he said. "It's better to take a chance in life than to never take a chance. I'm not saying to go and jump a canyon, but you have to take chances. Next time, I'll take more."
Prayers for one of America's originals.
At his age, that is a safe bet with or without a terminal illness.
I wish Evel Knievel all the best, but 3 to 5 years to live is probably better odds than Vegas would give with Knievel in perfect health
Is his casket going to fly over a line of semi trucks into the hole?
Sorry, that was uncalled for. But I couldn't resist.
Is he going to jump it?
Butte? Is that pronounced "bootie", or "but"?
I would have to call him one the last examples of "rugged individualism".
Really? I'd have to call him a showman.
His personal life was a wreck, in itself. But a true idol to many a young lad in his day.
Neither. Butte, is pronounced "b-yoot".
Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel (born October 17, 1938 in Butte, Montana)
~much more . . .
Before he goes, he wants one more shot at Sheldon Saltman.
As in "My Cousin Vinny" "uhhh whats a yoot?" ?
Thats one of my favorite movies BTW. :D
Mine too, of course Marisa Tomei was in it. :)
The only guy who was ever happy to miss the bus.
I wish him the best, having pretending to be him more than once while jumping ramps on my bicycle as a kid.
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