Who Was Robert Knievel?

Robert Edward “Robbie” Knievel III was the son of legendary daredevil Robert “Evel” Knievel. Robbie began jumping motorcycles at a young age and began his successful career while still a teenager. He broke 20 world records and made more than 350 jumps, many in homage to his famous father. He was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2007, though injuries from his stunts prevented Knievel from performing toward the end of his life. He died in January 2023 at age 60.

Early Years and Relationship with Evel Knievel

Born in Butte, Montana, on May 7, 1962, Robbie Knievel was the third of four children born to legendary daredevil Evel Knievel and his first wife, Linda.

Robbie began jumping motorcycles as a young boy, receiving early training from his father and appearing alongside him at shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden and other venues. As the elder Knievel’s fame grew, the family themselves entered the spotlight. Capitalizing on the popularity of an Evel Knievel action figure (which reportedly, at times, outsold G.I. Joe), 13-year-old Robbie saw his likeness captured in his own action figure, dubbed “Robbie, The Teen-Age Stuntman.”

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Relations between father and son were difficult, with Evel Knievel growing increasingly jealous of his son’s talents. After his father tried to prevent him from attempting more difficult stunts, Knievel left home at the age of 16. Eager to escape his father’s shadow, he spent the next decade slowly building his career, performing as a lower-billed performer at lesser-known events. Knievel and his father later reconciled and remained close until Evel Knievel’s death in November 2007.

Caesars Palace Jump

In April 1989, 26-year-old Knievel payed homage to one of his father’s most well-known—and unsuccessful—stunts. In 1967, Evel Knievel crashed while attempting to jump over the Caesars Palace fountains in Las Vegas. The accident left him in a coma for nearly a month and resulted in serious injuries. Robbie Knievel’s 150-foot jump, however, was a success.

Additional Jumps

Knievel completed over 350 jumps and set 20 world records. Unlike his father, who primarily used a Harley-Davidson XR-750 racing motorcycle, Robbie performed most of his jumps using a much lighter and more agile Honda CR500 motocross bicycle.

In 1993, Knievel challenged fellow daredevil Eddie Kidd to a three-jump contest; the winner would be determined by who had a farther cumulative distance. Knievel lost by just 6 feet, but his desire for a rematch was scuttled when Kidd was forced to retire due to injuries.

Throughout the 1990s, Knievel continued to break his own world records, including a 1998 jump in Las Vegas’ Tropicana Hotel and a televised jump of 228 feet over a portion of the Grand Canyon (a stunt his father had wanted to try but was denied permission to do by the National Park Service).

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Knievel continued performing into his 40s with a series of stunts that included jumping over a moving locomotive in Texas in 2000 and military planes decked on the USS Intrepid in 2004. He also planned to jump an artificial volcano at Las Vegas’ Mirage Hotel in 2008, but that stunt had to be tweaked to a ramp-to-ramp jump in front of the volcano.

Knievel was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Sturgis, South Dakota, in 2007. Numerous injuries incurred over his long career have severely hampered Knievel’s ability to jump, limiting his performances later in life.

2016 DUI and Legal Troubles

On April 21, 2015, Knievel was arrested in Butte, Montana, and charged with felony DUI after he ran a red light and was involved in a four-car crash. It was believed to have been his fourth such offense. Knievel reached an agreement with prosecutors, pleading guilty to a reduced, misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence. Under the deal, Knievel paid a $685 fine and received a two-year suspended sentence.

Following the agreement, Knievel announced that he had stopped drinking and became sober. A planned jump at that year’s annual summer festival honoring his family, Knievel Days, was canceled due to Knievel’s legal issues. Later that year, however, Knievel performed what he called his first “sober jump,” when he traveled over 30 stacked golf carts in Palm Springs, California.

Media Portrayals

Knievel starred in the 2005 A&E program Knievel’s Wild Ride, a reality show that depicted his life and career. He was also the subject of a 2017 documentary, Chasing Evel: The Robbie Knievel Story, which depicted his tumultuous relationship with his father, as well as the impact of alcoholism on both Robbie and Evel.

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Family Life and Death

Knievel had three daughters, Krysten, Karmen, and Maria. All three were by his side when he died on January 13, 2023, at age 60. He was at a hospice in Reno, Nevada, following an earlier diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

Quick Facts

  • Birth Year: 1962
  • Birth date: May 7, 1962
  • Birth State: Montana
  • Birth City: Butte
  • Birth Country: United States
  • Gender: Male
  • Best Known For: Robbie Knievel is a daredevil and stunt performer, and the son of legendary motorcycle jumper Evel Knievel.
  • Astrological Sign: Taurus
  • Nacionalities
    • American

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Citation Information

  • Article Title: Robbie Knievel Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
  • Website Name: The Biography.com website
  • Url: https://www.biography.com/celebrities/robbie-knievel
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: August 14, 2020
  • Original Published Date: June 18, 2018