Motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel dies

Motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel died in Florida Friday at the age of 69.

Motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel has died in Floridaat the age of 69, said his granddaughter Krysten Knievel.

Evel Knievel's exploits made him an international icon in the 1970s. ((David Cantor/Associated Press))

Knievel, who was born Robert Craig Knievel,had been in poor healthfor several years, suffering from diabetes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable condition that scarred his lungs.

He died on Friday.

Knievel had a liver transplant in 1999 after almost dying of hepatitis C, likely contracted through a blood transfusion after one of his bone-shattering spills.

Immortalized in Washington's Smithsonian Institution as "America's Legendary Daredevil," Knievel was best known for a failed 1974 attempt to jump Snake River Canyon on a rocket-powered cycle and a spectacular crash at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. He suffered nearly 40 broken bones before he retired in 1980.

He recently settled a lawsuit against rapper Kanye West over the use of Knievel's trademarked image in one of West's videos.

The former salesman and fervent self-promoter was as renowned for his spectacular crashes and broken bones as for his daring jumps.

Famous attempts included the New Year's Day 1968 jump across the fountains in front of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas— a stunt that left Knievel in a coma for a month— and a jump over 13 buses at London's Wembley Stadium in 1975, when he broke his pelvis.

"No king or prince has lived a better life," he said in a May 2006 interview with the Associated Press. "You're looking at a guy who's really done it all. And there are things I wish I had done better, not only for me but for the ones I loved."

Knievel and his first wife, Linda Joan Bork, with whom he had four children, separated in the early 1990s. He married Krystal Kennedy in 1999. They divorced a few years later but remained together. Knievel had 10 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

With files from the Associated Press