As the mischievous poster boy for MTV’s Jackass, Bam Margera had it all. Fame, fortune and success beyond his wildest dreams. Indeed, the prankster couldn’t have flown any higher in the noughties. But today Margera is a shadow of his former self, and his behavior is bringing him dangerously close to self-destruction. And with seemingly no alternative, his family had to step in…
From an early age, Brandon Margera always had a rambunctious personality. In fact, his custom of running into walls at three years old led his grandfather to nickname the future star “Bam.”
Rather than dampen the young rascal’s prospects, though, Margera’s wild behavior actually helped him forge a career in later life. In 1999 he released his first video CKY, a collection of skateboard tricks and death-defying stunts, featuring himself and his friends Ryan Dunn and Brandon DiCamillo.
CKY caught the attention of Jeff Tremaine, who was creating his own show for MTV. As a result, Margera, Dunn and DiCamillo were all cast on Jackass – the now-famous stunt series which would also make stars of Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O.
In addition to his painful pratfalls during the course of the show’s three-season run and the ensuing movie series, Margera also reveled in pulling pranks on his doting parents, April and Phil. In one instance, the star woke the pair up with a fireworks display. On another occasion, he apparently unleashed a live alligator into the family home.
After Jackass’ 2002 end, Margera continued to flourish thanks to a spate of spin-off shows. From 2003 to 2005 he helmed Viva La Bam and would follow this up with Bam’s Unholy Union in 2007.
Moreover, the star’s second career as a celebrity skateboarder was taking off and beginning to rival his life on screen. During Jackass’ run, Margera signed a deal with Element skateboards and became a regular in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game series.
However, this success wouldn’t last forever, and before long Margera’s career began showing signs of decline. Suffering from bone spurs in his feet, the athlete found it harder to ride a board and so put skating to the sidelines.
While Margera could easily survive this career setback, a tragic event would soon tear his world apart. On the morning of June 20, 2011, Ryan Dunn – who had been friends with Bam since school – died in a car accident at the young age of 34.
“I never had anybody that I cared about die and know what the hell it was like,” the star explained on Family Therapy With Dr. Jenn in 2016. “Then all of a sudden my best friend dies. Like, f**k. What do you do now?”
For Margera, the answer was simple. “I went on a drinking binge,” he said. Indeed, what began as a few drinks to ease the pain turned into a full-time habit. And as the years went by, Bam’s behavior and appearance took a turn for the worse.
Now completely unrecognizable due to weight gain, Margera has frequently found himself on the wrong side of the law. In July 2013, for example, the TV personality was arrested in Iceland for damaging a rental car. Just one month later, he was arrested again for disorderly behavior in a hotel in Glasgow, Scotland.
Meanwhile, the star’s only recent work has been to appear in a metal band named F**kface Unstoppable. His former co-stars have also felt the toll. During a 2015 Reddit AMA, Steve-O – who has vowed to abstain from drugs and alcohol – admitted that a fourth Jackass movie could only happen if Margera stopped drinking. He deemed the chance of that happening to be wholly “unlikely.”
But every addict reaches their breaking point, and Margera’s mom April decided that enough was enough. She had to intervene. In 2015 she signed the pair up for Family Therapy With Dr. Jenn with the hope that her son would be forced to confront his demons.
And from the show’s very first moments, it was clear that something was terribly wrong. Indeed, Margera arrived at the taping with fresh lacerations on his hand – injuries he said he had received from punching the window of his Porsche the night before. “I don’t feel like I deserve it,” he said of the car.
Nevertheless, this was only a hint of his self-hatred, and the star revealed the depths of his depression in the ensuing therapy session. “Stuff doesn’t make me happy,” he said. “I don’t want to be friends with anybody new. I don’t even want to be friends with the friends that I’m friends with cause they’re a**holes.”
Flanked by a tearful April, Bam even admitted to harboring suicidal thoughts. “I don’t f**king want this anymore,” he said. “Not like I was going to do it or anything, but I was like, ‘Just send me in that pool and make sure I don’t come back up.’”
Following the show’s taping, though, the troubled star seemed to be making progress. Indeed, April told TMZ in October 2015 that her son had been sober for three months thanks to their part in the series.
However, reports from 2016 indicated that Margera had fallen off the rails yet again. Half a year after his episode of Family Therapy aired, the star was seen urinating in the streets of Helsinki. He was later led away by police concerned by his strange behavior.
While the star’s recovery seems uncertain, Margera appears to have been doing better in recent months. Indeed, early in March 2017 Jenkem magazine reported that the star had started skateboarding again and had even been back in touch with his old team at Element. Only time will tell how Margera’s battle will end, but we wish him the best of luck for the future.