Josh Perry and The Quest To Progress
Inside the life of Josh Perry
In 2010, BMX rider Josh Perry was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that was removed. In the time since, Perry has continued to ride BMX at a professional level, but he shifted his lifestyle to a more health-focused and motivational direction, touting the benefits of brain health in a sport riddled by concussions and traumatic brain injuries. Seven years later, Perry is still walking the walk and talking the talk.
BMX saved my life
Originally from New England, Josh Perry currently lives and trains in the Holly Springs, North Carolina, area, a short drive from the Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex. "BMX saved my life," Perry says. "If I didn't hit my head riding, I'd be dead. BMX has shown me the world and has shown me so much about life. And I've met the most amazing friends and had the most amazing opportunities because of it." Here, Perry spins a 720 at height over the indoor spine at the Dhers complex.
A fall saved his life
"I fell one day in 2010 while riding and hit my head," Perry says. "That fall and that MRI are what saved my life, because that's when they found the tumor. Leading to that, a year prior, I was experiencing crazy migraines on and off for a couple days of a week, and then they'd go away and come back. It was just random."
Pictured here are the original MRIs from Perry's brain in 2010. "When I first heard the words 'You have a brain tumor,' my world just shut down and I was still in shock," Perry says. "The doctor was explaining things -- I remember him talking but not what he was saying. First thing I thought of was 'I'm dead.' Second thing I thought of was riding."
Here, Perry sits in recovery following his first surgery in April of 2010. "It was supposed to be a four-hour surgery and it took six or more, because the tumor was growing around the artery and pushing on the optic nerve," Perry says. "And they didn't want to risk taking too much tissue or hitting the artery and putting me into a stroke, paralysis, death or the list goes on of complications."
Post surgery 2010
Following his initial surgery in 2010, Perry posed for photos with the staples still in his head. "When I got closer to surgery, I started to shift my mindset," Perry says. "It really helped that the BMX community, whether they knew me or not, reached out to let me know they were thinking of me, sending me positive vibes and energy, and between that and my friends and family, it seriously changed my mind to where I thought 'No, I'm not going to let this beat me.'"
Embracing the athlete
"The biggest change we can make is to represent BMX as a professional, athletic sport that it is," Perry says regarding the current state of BMX riding. "I know all these dudes want to say that they don't train and this and that, but to be at the level of riding that we're at, you have to practice, and you have to take care of your body, and wear helmets. And if you want to compete, it's a sport, that makes sense."
"At the end of 2010, BMX rider Craig Mast sent me a documentary on Netflix called 'Food Matters' and it was something about the simplicity of what they were saying about something so complex, it just clicked for me," Perry says. "That's when I started to think, 'Okay, this food stuff really matters, on top of fitness.'"
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Perry's first gamma knife radiosurgery happened on Nov. 22, 2012. The process, which Perry likens to an MRI, is a type of radiation therapy used to treat tumors in the brain. It uses specialized equipment to focus about 200 tiny beams of radiation on a tumor or other target with acute accuracy. "The radiation doesn't damage the tissues it's going through, but when triangulated, it's powerful enough to make an impact, like the Power Rangers," Perry says.
Here, Perry throws a seatgrab indian air over the stepdown at the former private warehouse of BMX legend Dave Mirra in 2013. In the time since, the ramps have been repurposed for use in the current Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex, so Perry is familiar with the setups.
Passion for sharing
Perry blogs regularly for his own website, 'Daily Brainstorms.' "Daily Brainstorms comes from my personal journey through life," Perry says. "From beginning my career as a professional BMX athlete to being diagnosed, treated and recovering from three brain tumors as I entered my 20's. I became a certified holistic health coach on my never-ending quest to find the perfect way of eating for my body and my brain. While on this journey I have learned a lot and have gained a passion for sharing what I have learned with others."
Focus on the body and mind
Perry was diagnosed with an additional brain tumor in 2012, and underwent gamma knife radiation surgery to slow the growth of the tumor. "After that second diagnosis, that's when I really got into holistic health and nutrition, the biology of food and how it interacts with your body. And how your mindset can change the chemical makeup of your body and your brain," Perry says. "And that's when I really started researching it more. I actually put myself through a nutrition coaching program in 2014, just to learn how to navigate through studies and theories, but also how to share this information with people."
Goals in and out of BMX
"My goal is to get outside of the sport and bring more people in to see what we do," Perry says. "Living with three brain tumors, overcoming brain tumors, being positive and healthy and fit, all of these things are so much bigger than BMX, so if I can tie BMX into that, that's going to push my goals and also bring more attention to BMX to grow."
"One of the main ideas I'm working on, is doing nonprofit BMX shows for hospitals and facilities, putting on a good show, breaking it down with inspirational stories, and I have a few doctors on board to do educational seminars, promoting brain health and nutrition, all these different aspects that go into my life, bringing them together in a BMX show," Perry says.
A new approach to living
In 2014, Perry enrolled in a course with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a holistic health coach, completing the course a year later. "The most important thing I learned was how high blood sugar levels or consuming sugar at all and how toxic it is for your brain," Perry says. "It's a miracle that I also didn't get diabetes. I don't eat that much sugar in a month now compared with what I was eating in a day. I was partying a lot, eating fast food, drinking soda, young and living on a budget, all of it was horrible."
Potential for BMX growth
"My goal in life is to legitimately represent as an athlete in the sport that I do and to get myself out there," Perry says. "It's great that people have sponsors and are supported within BMX, but that only has a certain amount of reach. The sport is already hurting because it doesn't reach outside of that small circle. How do we expect it to grow?"
A BMX staple
You can't live and ride in North Carolina without this BMX essential: the backrail fufanu. Popularized by BMX legend Dave Mirra, the trick remains a benchmark of BMX precision. Here, Perry ignores the warnings and goes for it.
Changing the future
Through BMX clinics, a website dubbed Daily Brainstorms, and social media channels, Josh Perry is hoping to change the future of BMX riding and how it relates to brain health and nutrition. He added new sponsors to his list of endorsements, including Garden of Life Whole Food Supplements, and he is helping to change the perception of the BMX pro as a lazy, junk-food fueled party animal. "And, more than ever, I'm still living," Perry says. But Josh Perry isn't just living, he's seizing.