Meet Jesse, a young budding professional BMXer with big accomplishments under his belt and even bigger plans for the future who, we are very excited to announce, is the newest member of Box’s all-star BMX lineup. We are beyond thrilled to welcome this remarkable racer and individual to the Box BMX racing team where he joins the likes of fellow pros and national champions Cameron Wood, Cole Tesar, Eddy Clerte, and Daleny Vaughn among others, and to support him on his quest for excellence.
There is so much in store for Jesse whose professional racing career is finally beginning after a year of waiting and watching due to serious injuries on top of the pandemic, and now the Box family will be there in his pit to witness, celebrate, and spur his progression each step of the way. Recently, we got the chance to chat personally with Jesse and find out all about the 2016 USA BMX National #1 Amateur's personal background, inspirations, career highlights, struggles, and what he aims to accomplish as part of the Box team. The charming story of this rising star’s 12-year BMX journey will remind you why you fell in love with the sport and what BMX is really about at the end of the day—having fun.
To start, Jesse probably isn't who you think he is, meaning there is much more to this dashing racer than only his impressive ranking and riding expertise. Jesse is without question a talented and dedicated athlete who gives everything he’s got to the sport he loves with scores of trophies lining his shelves to show for it, but this down-to-earth, kindhearted twenty-year-old also embodies the traits of an exceptional sportsman and a true role model. He is highly skilled yet humble, focused but lighthearted with a sense of humor, and is open about his shortcomings and struggles, something very difficult for any person to confess, athlete or not. When asked how he manages the constant stress and pressure that comes along with being a professional athlete, Jesse paused, smiled, and said, “That’s a hard question. Sometimes I don’t know. I just try to push through it. Every race I learn what I need to work on so that I can be better for the next race. I try to be confident and learn from each race.”
Jesse acknowledges that while he has already achieved much in order to get to where he is today, he still has a long way to go with lots to learn before he is ready to achieve his dreams. “The mental aspect is the hardest part of racing for me, just getting my head right to get in the gate with everyone. There’s a lot of nerves, especially because I’m only a couple pro races in,” Jesse said. Jesse is not afraid to admit that he isn’t always at the top of his game, that he makes mistakes, and that sometimes things just don’t go as planned. And when he does not perform as well as he had hoped, whether due to a slow start, bad weather, equipment malfunction, or another rider crashing and wiping him out, Jesse takes the setback in stride and focuses on what he can do better for next time. He doesn’t lose sight of the bigger picture in the heat of the moment. In the BMX world, that makes Jesse a diamond in the rough.
If you know the BMX racing scene, you know the competition can get fierce, ugly even, especially at the higher levels where there are major rankings, titles, and, not to mention, big egos on the line. It is a sad truth that in BMX, like in all other competitive sports, racers often view one another as enemies, interactions between competitors are loaded with animosity, and fights erupt over the smallest of mishaps. Grace is becoming more and more difficult to find nowadays amongst athletes and their supporters, who no doubt have only the best of intentions but are often taught that winning is everything no matter the cost. Well, Jesse doesn’t see things that way, and he refuses to adopt a rigid mindset for the sake of fitting in with the crowd. His positive friendly attitude toward fellow racers is a breath of fresh air and a much-needed model of good sportsmanship, especially for younger riders.
Always remembering to have fun even when the stakes are high, not taking himself or the competition too seriously, and supporting those around him whenever he can, Jesse is a representation of professional athleticism with good character and the BMX community at its best. Jesse says the most important piece of advice he has ever received and would pass on to others is, “Have fun and enjoy the ride. Take it seriously of course, but remember at the end of the day, you’re just riding around on your bike. Have fun with it.” What makes Jesse admirable as a racer is not so much the success he has achieved thus far in his career, very impressive though it is, but more so the way he has achieved his success and how he carries himself in both the good times and the bad.
When Jesse broke his collarbone last year just as he was turning pro and had no choice but to stop racing, Jesse did not give up, nor was he bitter about his predicament or the time he inevitably lost. “I went from doctor to doctor trying to get surgery, but they wouldn’t let me, so I went three months without surgery and, still, it didn’t heal. Then I finally got surgery. It ended up being eight months in total off the bike completely just healing my collar bone,” Jesse told us. Jesse resumed training as soon as he could, simply looking forward to being able to compete again, even if just at small local races to start. Early this year Jesse faced yet another setback when he tore his rotator cuff at a race in Alabama. Now he is almost fully recovered and ready to take on the pro circuit.
Suffice to say, Jesse possesses the qualities of an exceptional racer and athlete, and we at Box are proud to support him as he embarks on this next exciting chapter of his career and endeavors to make his mark in the BMX world. Jesse, for his part, says, “I’m super excited to join the Box team because I’ve been riding your products for over seven years and genuinely love the parts. Luckily all the teams I’ve been on have run Box, but even when I got off my last team, I stuck with you and went out and bought all the stuff. I’m thrilled to represent you guys.” Here’s a little bit more about Box’s new star—his background, biggest achievements, favorite racing memories, and future goals, plus some fun personal trivia—to get to know him better.
Jesse was born in Garden Grove, California, moving shortly after to Norco where he spent most of his youth before settling in Riverside where he has lived for the last ten years. He started riding BMX when he was eight years old after one of his childhood friends took him to the racetrack and, against his expectations and intentions, he ended up falling in love with the sport. Describing his discovery of BMX, Jesse revealed, “I went into BMX to do motocross actually, but I just stuck with it. I liked it. I fell in love with it.” And well, the rest is history. BMX became Jesse’s sole focus outside of school throughout his childhood. By the time he was in fifth grade, he was missing so much school traveling across the country for races that his parents decided it would be best to homeschool Jesse so he could have the flexibility needed to pursue BMX seriously.
When Jesse started racing competitively, his dad, a stay-at-home dad since Jesse was young, also got into BMX and took Jesse to all of his races. “After I started homeschooling, my dad and I would spend three months in our motorhome and travel the country to races. I went to every state and learned all about them, so I think it was much better for me than real school in a way,” said Jesse. Being homeschooled certainly gave Jesse an advantage when it came to training time and racing experience, and no doubt he and his dad made many memories on their cross-country journeys that they will look back on for a long time to come. Jesse said he still loves the traveling aspect of racing, “especially getting there a little early to get used to the time difference and exploring. My favorite part is going to lunch with everyone before the race. It’s super fun to hang out and helps you relax before the race.”
Jesse realized he could turn professional when he secured the national #1 title at the 2016 USA BMX Grand Nationals, winning every single lap as only an amateur. Following that huge breakthrough, Jesse started winning Nationals consistently and decided that he “may as well jump in all the way.” When asked if he was at all hesitant about moving on to the pro leagues, Jesse said, “I wasn’t really very nervous. I was one of the top amateur racers right before I turned pro, and I was winning more amateur races than I was losing, so I knew I was ready. When they combined the A-Pro and AA-Pro categories into one category, the Elite division, that was kind of nerve-racking, but the goal is to race the best, and I know the competition will only push me to be better.” “Winning more amateur races than I was losing” is quite the understatement. In one year alone, Jesse won over 25 Nationals. After 25 he lost count.
Before turning professional, Jesse almost always raced as part of a team, an impressive feat in itself as the vast majority of amateur riders are unable to qualify for team representation. Jesse received his first major sponsorship when he was only 13. After placing first in his class two days in a row at Las Vegas Nationals, Intense BMX approached Jesse and asked him to join their team. The first official factory team Jesse joined was Haro Promax in 2012. He remained on Haro Promax for four years before eventually moving on to the Throdwn factory team. In 2020, Jesse left Throdwn to turn professional and did not join another team due to the pandemic and his injuries. Talking about the difference between racing as a part of a team and racing individually, Jesse said, “Having support behind you helps a lot. Doing it on your own without a pit or anyone behind you is really hard. Having a team is motivating.” Jesse is extremely excited to be back on a team and have the support of Box and the whole Box community behind him.
His goal for the coming season is to attend all the USA BMX pro races as well as the UCI BMX World Cup races to get as much experience as he can racing against competitors from all over the world. Jesse has his sights set on the 2024 Olympics and shared that, “Racing the Olympics is my ultimate dream and hopefully we can get there.” The Box team believes this young star is capable of anything he puts his mind to and is looking forward to helping Jesse achieve his dreams. Outside of BMX, Jesse enjoys mountain and road biking, hanging out with friends, and going to the beach. He lives a simple, drama-free life dedicated to BMX, and he is very happy that way.
Written By: Ashley Thomas