We may never know what really happened in the case of Sam Brown, a daredevilish Dylanesque kid with an impish smile from Revelstoke B.C. who apparently hanged himself last week in a Spokane jail after being arrested on a marijuana charge. What we do know is that a guy who could ride like an angel somehow descended to the depths of hell in a few short days.
Mountain biking video fans will remember the Disconstructed Wheel featured in New World Disorder III seven years ago. Nicknamed the hamster wheel, it was a huge interrupted wooden wheel you actually spun by riding before exiting onto a bridge and a standstill wheelie drop. Sam Brown built it (his dad reportedly put the hub together) and the first time you watched it, you were not entirely sure it wasn’t a fake. But Brown could ride skinnies on one wheel, do bone-rattling drops, build world-class trails like The Monster in Kaslo B.C. and perform all kinds of other stunts you and I only dream about.
That was when he was a teenager. Last week Sam Brown, now 24, evidently stole a helicopter, loaded it with 350 pounds of marijuana and flew in the dead of a truly fiendish night to a fateful meeting with undercover DEA cops. He was arrested in the Colville National Forest and jailed in Spokane on Feb. 23. Four days later he was found hanged by a bedsheet in his cell.
What a shame. For a time everyone knew Sam Brown in the mountain biking world, his name was famous, his work admired, his reputation renowned. He seemed to have it all. Hopefully someone will pursue his story for a clarification of what actually happened, how he traveled down the road he did. In the meantime we’re left to shake our heads over a tragedy so unnecessary, especially when you consider the cause. Marijuana is just as needless a thing to fight a war on drugs over as it is to lose a life for. Sam may have felt he let everyone down. With a little time and reaching out, he would have learned that was never the case.
Here’s the video of Sam doing his thing: