American motocross and Supercross star Jason Lawrence was no stranger to controversy when he appeared before a judge in 2009 charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of battery with serious bodily injury, and one count of mayhem. He had already been suspended from racing and fined heavily for both on and off-track misdemeanors.
In 2008, Lawrence proved his riding skills by lifting the AMA Supercross Lites West Championship but it’s been all downhill since then and the defence of his title was marred by controversy. On February 4, 2009, he was handed a two-race ban by AMA racing officials after being involved in a fight with some other Supercross competitors. Lawrence was already on probation following an earlier ruling on June 12, 2008, and now found himself missing two crucial rounds of the AMA Supercross Lites West Championship. Lawrence was penalized under the FIM and AMA ruling that forbids ‘An attack on a racing official and/or engaging in a fight. This includes any person who attacks or is involved in a fight anywhere on the premises prior to, during, or after an AMA Supercross, or an FIM World Championship meet.’
But 23-year-old Lawrence couldn’t even manage to stay out of trouble on-track and just two months later was facing more disciplinary action, this time under the ruling which states that ‘No rider may ride in such a manner as to endanger life or limb of other riders.’ Lawrence had been involved in an on-track altercation with Broc Hepler at the Jacksonville round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross World Championship.
‘J-Law’ was handed a $25,000 suspended fine and banned from the remainder of the world championship series. His suspension from AMA events was also extended until May 2010. But still he wasn’t finished and in July was suspended indefinitely by the AMA for ‘unacceptable behaviour detrimental to the sport.’ He was also ordered to cough up the full $25,000 fine that he could have avoided by staying out of trouble.
In the end, the suspensions didn’t matter as the Yamaha Troy rider wouldn’t be at liberty to compete anyway. On September 8, 2009, he appeared in Riverside County Court after having a fight with a friend and biting part of his ear off. Judge Judith Clarke sentenced him to 365 days in the Southwest Detention Centre in Murrieta, California. Somewhat ironically, the man he assaulted still considered himself to be a close friend of Lawrence and spoke favorably of him at his trial.
After serving just four months of his one-year sentence, Lawrence is now back racing Supercross having teamed up with No Fear and purchased his own private Yamaha. He raced his first round just four weeks after being released from jail.
The brawling berm-basher casually reckoned his four-month enforced ‘break’ was no different to time out after any sort of injury. “It was really like coming back after an injury, but I didn’t have to do any physical therapy or anything... just had to get my mind re-focused,” he said. “Compared to everyone else, I’ll be fresh and rested.”