Todd Thompson – Motocross racer


Before you watch Johnny’s interview with Todd Thompson, here’s what you should know about Todd…

Todd Thompson grew up in a family of motorcycle enthusiasts, so a career in motocross seemed a very natural path for him.  On his first motorcycle at the age of 2, Todd spent his childhood riding and going to races with his father near their home in Northern California.  But an accident in 1998 at the age of nineteen derailed his budding career and put the inherent dangers of the sport in a new perspective.

During a race, a spill on a poorly-lit turn caused Todd to catch himself and come down on his right leg, shattering it completely.  After two weeks in the hospital, he and his medical team were faced with a harrowing decision.  They could keep trying to repair the leg with an unknown number of surgeries, with little guarantee it would work and with a real chance of infection setting it, risking the health of more than just the leg.  Or, they could amputate.  Todd chose the latter.

“As a 19-year old kid it’s hard to lay in a hospital bed and wonder what that’s going to be like,” he says about life without his leg.  “It was a tough decision [but] at the same time, I wanted to get better.  I was sick of fighting, I was sick of laying in a hospital bed and losing weight. . . .  It was then and there that I decided that I wasn’t going to let this stop me.  I’d always been a competitor and I’d always been an athlete, and that wasn’t going to change.”

That resolve carried with him throughout the arduous process of not only learning to walk again, but ride again.  After months of healing and rehabilitation, Todd was able to adapt to his new condition and, with the help of a prosthetic leg, get back on a bike.  Looking back, it’s clear his love for the sport transcended anything life could throw at him.

“I knew the entire process that I was going through was going to be worth it in the end,” he says.  “The question of, did I ever think that my riding career was over?  No.  Honestly, I never did.  I always knew that, no matter what.  Honestly, if I lost my [prosthetic] leg and would never be able to wear it, I’d be out there on one leg.  That’s how much this sport means to me.  And when there’s a threat of it being taken away, you tend to want to hold on to it more, and that’s what I did.  I wasn’t going to accept defeat and I wasn’t going to accept that this was going to be the last.”

Today, Todd competes at the highest level of adaptive professional motocross, winning a silver medal at last summer’s X Games and recently racing at the famed Daytona track.  Like all athletes, his success is directly related to the spirit and determination he has in everyday life.

“I don’t consider myself handicapped or disabled,” he says.  “That’s not even part of my vocabulary.  That’s how I want it to be and that’s how I want others in my same situation to think.  It empowers you, when you have that mindset – yea, I may [have lost] my leg, but I’m still better than you.  That’s how you have to be.  That’s part of being a badass, I guess.”

Below is the video of Johnny interviewing Todd.

Download audio MP3 file (Right-click and choose “Save Target As…” or “Save File As…”)

Download the transcript of this interview (PDF)


  1. Burney says:

    This is truely NOR CAL’s biggest BAD ASS!! I have never heard the whole story of what happened .. But he always kicks our ass out here at my fast fifty track.. Great guy and hope he continues to reach new levels of success with his racing!! Good luck Todd… Stop by and see the track we are building sometime..

  2. Leslee Russell says:

    My Brother, My Hero!
    You’re such an inspiration to all the lives you have touched. Keep up the hard work Brother!
    LOVE you and am ALWAYS rooting for you.


  3. Vicky Thompson says:

    Your entire family is so proud of you, I am honored to call you my son ! I love you and support all you do. I hope this chapter in your life takes you beyond your dreams.

  4. Johnny says:

    It was so awesome to have Todd on… glad everyone enjoyed our talk!

  5. Mary Brazelton says:

    You are definately a BADASS. You are blessed with an awesome passion for life. I am inspired by you. You got a pretty great mom too.

  6. June Young says:

    Todd has a very large family and we are all so proud of his accomplishments, he has always been a bad ass. . Todd never gives up, he has proved to be a fighter, if life kicks him down he gets up and kicks back. He is a great example of what a real bad ass is. Keep up the good work Todd.

  7. Stacy Forman says:

    Todd is a Bad Ass and I am proud to be his cousin. He is an inspiration and a shining example of what to do when life throws a curve ball at you. Keep up the good work “little” cousin and keep swinging at those curve balls, you drive them out of the park like a Bad Ass!

  8. Andrea Thompson says:

    Todd, I am so proud of all your accomplishments! You truly have made your family so proud! Living with you, I know first hand the daily struggles you face. Yet, you prove over and over again that nothing holds you back from making your dreams a reality. Keep going babe! I will always support you…

    Love Andrea

  9. carol thompson says:

    Todd, you are truly a grandson to be proud of. I remember when you had the accident and we all wondered how you would cope and how you would get by with out racing. Little did we know what life had in store for you. Little did we know! You are an inspiration to us all. You have never once asked for sympathy just wanted us out of your way so you could go. We love you,Gramps & Gramma

  10. Kari Rice says:

    Todd- We are so proud of you and inspired by you because you are a BADASS! You are great at what you do and love what you do! That is so special! We are proud of you & love you! Kari, Chig & Kinsey

  11. Will LaBadie says:

    I have the HONOR and PRIVILIGE to say TODD has helped me and changed my life… He is a True BADASS in every sense of the word.. If it wasn’t for Todd”s close presence in my life during my hardest times, I wouldn’t be here to attest to his character…. Keep the Dream Alive Todd and continue to reach out to others… I have never taken my chance to thank you as I should. THANK U

    William LaBadie

  12. Ed Thompson says:

    Sitting here listening to this testimonial straight from Todd, brings me rigjht back to that day. WOW. It’s not every father that says they look up to their child, it is usually the other way around. Anyone that lines up on the line with him wether on a motorcycle,skates, marbles, anything competitive even with both of your good legs , better be ready . He is a true BAD ASS. Todd’s father, Ed Thompson

  13. Todd Thompson says:

    I cant tell all of you how much I appreciate the positive re-inforcement. It makes my journey that much more enjoyable having such a strong support system behind me. I give my life the very best I have, and I cant thank you enough for every thing each of you have provided me. Dad, I didnt get a chance to thank you for how you have contributed to my success. Without you, none of the last year would have happened. Mom, you are always there for me, to talk to, to lean on, and for the right advice. Jayson Burris, you provide me with equipment that I would never have been able to ride, you are a great friend, and I call you my brother, from another mother, of course.. LOL.. Johnny B. Truant, for having the balls to create The Bad Ass project, and not being an adaptive athlete, you obviously understand things 99% of others do not. Thank you for the platform to tell my story, I encourage everybody to donate, and please forward these links to others, so they can learn and be inspired by these BAD ASS people. Todd

    • Johnny says:

      I’ve always seen people doing crazy stuff like skiing in a rig or whatever and asked myself if I’d be that cool if I were in that spot, and I’ve always really liked to think the answer is yes. What I love so much about this project is that I’m now sure that the answer is yes because I have so many examples of possibility. YOU are helping ME here, dude. It’s awesome.

      The best part is that nobody I’ve talked to is out there to try and inspire anyone. They’re all just doing what seems right for them — what seems the obvious thing to do. Todd, you said you just kept entering normal races because you didn’t realize there was an adaptive division. That says it all. You’re going to ride, no matter what. For YOU, not for anyone else. But what happens? Badasses make it obvious that just about anything is possible. Because they’re bullheadedly BAD ASS and won’t be stopped. It’s not a possibility. It’s not a viable option.

      Now imagine a world where everyone felt and acted that way about the things that were important to them. I’d like to live in that world.

  14. Jess C. says:

    Dude… I can’t even find the words to tell you how hard your story hit me. Beyond inspirational… Thanks for sharing it with us. You ROCK!

  15. Loved reading this. Specifically, I loved how Todd views himself, and how he chooses language to reflect his deepest sense of self. “I don’t consider myself handicapped or disabled….That’s not even part of my vocabulary.” Keep riding, and keep sharing your story.

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