Morgan Wolf
Tuesday August 19th, 2014

Eighteeen-year-old Stone Edler is a tough kid. No way around it. Despite suffering numerous injuries and broken bones, and despite having had to overcome Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 16, Stone still gets up every morning and embraces his role as a motocross rider. Perhaps this is why his father, Lance, says he’s “completely nuts.” Lance likes to say, “I don’t think you can really be all there to be a motocross rider,” so maybe being off your rocker is a good thing.

Edler started riding bikes when he was just five years old. Immediately, it was obvious that the “crazy gene” was in his blood. He broke his femur, the largest bone in the body, at age seven. That was only the beginning of a grocery list’s worth of injuries that includes broken collarbones, a broken tibia and fibula (at the same time), as well as broken wrists. To top it all off, Edler has knocked out teeth, broken his humerus (requiring a rod insertion for stability) and crushed three vertebrae.

At this point, Edler says that getting these injuries is “pretty routine,” and that he doesn’t cry when he gets hurt. However, Edler does cry when he hears that he can’t compete. He says, “I don’t cry, at least not until that part [when he finds out that injuries will keep him out of a competition].” 

Still, the fact that the injuries are “pretty routine,” combined with the boundless drive Edler has, means that they’ve never held him back. In fact, he has already been compared with the likes of Travis Pastrana and Jeremy McGrath—two men whom Edler has always idolized—and says “it’s a dream come true” even to be mentioned in the same sentence as them.

Stone Edler
Stone Edler

Such comparisons are why many experts in the sport are saying that he could be one of the greatest—maybe even the greatest—of all time.

Edler might say that it’s crazy that he’s compared with them, but he completely deserves the praise. He has won numerous junior championships, and going pro now is simply the next logical step. To name just a few of his titles, he won the World Mini at Las Vegas in 2008, a championship at the Ponca City Nationals in the same year, and the Daytona AMA National in 2010. But all of Edler's accomplishments pale in comparison to the disease he overcame.

Edge
Racing the Red Bull Mini Drome with New York City's top bike messengers

In February 2012, Edler returned from the Spring Nationals in Texas complaining of chronic fatigue. Subsequent blood work found an iron deficiency in his bloodstream, but that was quickly written off as a routine problem because several other junior riders at his training facility were having the same problem.

Fast forward two months or so and everybody’s iron levels are back to normal at the training facility… except for Edler's. Doctors couldn’t determine a cause, so it was dismissed as a non-factor. In retrospect, it turned out to be a huge warning sign that was evidence of cancer.

In July 2012, Stone was practicing at the training facility when he went off a jump and crashed. Normally when Edler crashes, one of two things happen: Either he gets up and he’s fine or he’s broken another bone. This time, it was the latter of the two. He broke his orbital bone. But he was also spitting up blood, something that had never happened before. His trainers figured there was some internal bleeding, so he was sent to a local hospital and given an MRI. It seemed like a routine process, but it was one that would change his life.

Comparisons of Edler's two MRIs.
Stone Edler

Above is a picture of two of Edler’s MRIs. The first one (bottom) shows an 11.5 centimeter long white mass (the tumor) taking over his right lung and pressing against his windpipe. The second one (top) shows a significantly smaller growth after his first 21-day cycle of chemotherapy.

Eight months later, Edler’s chemotherapy and radiation treatments were complete and the hospital released him. He says it’s in remission with no remaining side-effects.

It’s well known that chemotherapy and radiation treatments are no laughing matter. They sap you of energy to the point that something as simple as smiling becomes a chore.

Since chemotherapy and radiation treatments are exhausting, most people don’t try to exert themselves too much until after a few weeks have passed following the treatment. With Edler, the exact opposite happened. He says that he went back to the training facility literally two days after being released. That was unorthodox, to say the least—especially considering that Edler says he had problems with his organs, mainly his liver, during the first four months after treatment.

According to Edler, he would take in lots of water and, because his liver function wasn’t back up to speed, the water wouldn’t be processed by the organ and would just stay in the body, causing widespread swelling. However, despite the pain and discomfort that he experienced, Edler says that he was “passionate and dedicated” about getting back to the sport he missed so much while being treated for Hodgkin’s.

Father and son spoke about how, after the younger Edler’s release from the hospital, Lance decided to hang out with Stone by racing with him, just for fun. However, in classic Stone Edler fashion, his competitiveness was still very high, and, as Lance says, “He tried to run me off the road.”  This might seem a bit much, but Stone simply says that he was showing his dad some “tough love.”

Fast forward to the present and Edler still is racking up injuries like before, and just like before, that doesn’t stop him. He just competed in Loretta Lynn’s famed 2014 Amateur Motocross Championships in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. The event is five days long and is the most prestigious tournament in amateur motocross. That said, after years of being frustrated by injuries and dealing with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Stone finally won the event, taking first in the College B/C (ages 16-24).

He now follows in the tiretracks of such stars as Travis Pastrana and Jeremy McGrath. Not only will he be mentioned in the same sentence as them, he is there to stay.

Renderings of the Moto-9 carbon custom-fit helmet designed for Edler.
Stone Edler

Within the next couple of weeks, Edler will be flying to Scotts Valley, Calif., where one of his sponsors, Bell Helmets, is headquartered. Bell will be giving him something called a Moto-9 Carbon custom-fit scan. This is a new technology developed by the scientists at Bell, who will measure the unique contours of Edler’s head to give him a custom helmet that will fit only him. Normally, only elite riders get to go through this innovative process, so the fact that a non-pro is getting this special helmet underscores the expectations that major sponsors like Bell Helmets have for Edler.

The helmet itself represents a huge step forward in the field of concussion prevention and it’ll keep Edler from breaking his head, which is just about the only part of his body he hasn’t broken. (Edler laughs when he hears this.)

Before hanging up, Edler answers one last question: “Can anything stop Stone Edler from becoming the next great motocross rider?” With no hesitation, he replies, simply, “Nope.”

It seems that Lance Edler was right from the beginning: “I think my son is completely nuts.” But if that’s true, and being “completely nuts” is what gets you to the top of the motocross world, then Stone Edler will make short work of his obstacles to get there. Think about it: if Edler can beat Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in just eight short months, his opponents don’t stand a chance against him.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.