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Nik Wallenda finishes high-wire act that killed great-grandfather

From Kelly Daniel, CNN
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Nik Wallenda: 'I was not scared'
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The great-grandson completes the exact high-wire walk, along with his mother
  • Nik Wallenda is a seventh-generation member of The Flying Wallendas
  • His great-grandfather, Karl, died at age 73 after falling off a wire

San Juan, Puerto Rico (CNN) -- It's one thing to defy death as high-wire walker Nik Wallenda routinely does.

That defiance, however, became even more breathtaking Saturday when Wallenda completed the exact 100-foot-high walk that killed his great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, who fell to his death in 1978 at age 73.

If that wasn't enough, Nik Wallenda accomplished the 300-foot-long walk along with his mother, Delilah, on the same wire strung between the two towers of the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza Hotel.

There was no safety net.

Nik Wallenda said he was fearless during the walk.

"I was not scared at all," Wallenda said.

But the circumstances of his great-grandfather's death had haunted him -- until Saturday's successful crossing.

1978: Karl Wallenda falls to his death

"I started walking a wire when I was 2 years old, and this has been a dream of mine to recreate this walk. I've seen the video played over and over, and it replays in my head constantly. To be able to walk in his exact footsteps is an extremely huge honor, and I did this for him as much as I did it for my family to get some closure too," the great-grandson added.

Nik Wallenda is a seventh-generation performer in the legendary circus family known as The Flying Wallendas. The clan has been doing impressive circus acrobatics and stunts since the 1700s.

"My great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, was my biggest hero in life, my biggest inspiration behind everything I do," he said.

Wallenda, 32, who calls himself "the king of the high-wire," has broken several world records and holds the Guinness Record for crossing the longest and highest high-wire on a bicycle, but Saturday's walk was the biggest of his career, he said.

During the walk, he kneeled and gave a kiss.

"That was to my great-grandfather," he said afterwards.

CNN's Michael Martinez contributed to this story.

 
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