Pro BMX biker Kurt Yaeger survived the unthinkable—a terrible accident that cost him a leg and nearly ended his career.
The story of his dramatic rebound.
Written byElyse Glickman
Kurt Yaeger is a quintessential tough guy on screen, playing the merciless Greg “The Peg” on the AMC series Sons of Anarchy. But strolling into Aroma Café in Studio City, the handsome actor easily blends in with other clean-cut guys in the crowd.
“On every level, my role on Sons of Anarchy has been fantastic,” Kurt muses as he savors his caramel latte.
In conversation, Kurt is every bit as rugged as you’d imagine, with an intense gaze and boyish good looks. But his toughness goes well beneath the surface. Six years ago, a freak motorcycle accident during a routine cruise through town claimed his left leg. He doesn’t mince words while discussing how his life turned upside down.
“I don’t know if I am really over all of the emotional stuff,” he says pointedly. “I still miss my leg, as I get phantom pains. However, with the recovery process, I don’t understand the concept of ‘getting over’ things, because those very things make you who you are and build your character. I use those feelings to my advantage in my acting and my charity work.”
That charity work is extensive. The Valley Village resident volunteers for Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), aimed at helping severely injured military service men and women. He is also active with the United Cerebral Palsy Foundation and a member of the Inclusion in the Arts & Media of People with Disabilities, a SAG/AFTRA/Actors’ Equity committee working to create more job opportunities for performers with disabilities.
“When you’ve been through something similar, your words are going to mean something to them,” he says with conviction. “Outside WWP, in my other charity work, I meet amazing kids, such as one boy with spina bifida who is the craziest kid I have ever met, doing double back flips in his wheelchair. He is the epitome of not allowing anything to hold you back.”
Going after an acting career after the accident was Kurt’s way of not holding back. He says that trying his hand at acting was simply an extension of what he was already doing.
“I’d always been a performer—riding bikes, doing shows for people and (doing stunts) on Nickelodeon’s Rocket Power touring show,” he states. “Even with the odds of making it as an actor, when I decided to just go for it, about a year and a half after the accident, it was a matter of deciding to do it because I felt I had the capacity and desire to take on a new challenge. As somebody who realized that life could be snuffed out so easily, why not go for it?”
Kurt is also a bit of an inventor. ProTonLocks, a company he co-owns, produces magnetic bike pedals that enable amputees to enjoy biking. Thanks to his own creation, he’s back at the top of his game as the world’s number-one Adaptive BMXer.
Kurt credits his remarkable resilience to his family. He grew up in the tough urban sprawl of outh San Francisco with a father, a no-nonsense grandmother and two older brothers. They taught him that “the more you go out and experience, the more well-rounded you are and the more capable you will become,” he says. “You may fail at something you try, but by trying, you’ve learned a lot about yourself in the process—which is a success.”