ROCK SPRINGS — Rhett Stott loves motocross and Pokémon. When he isn’t investing time into one, he’s doing the other. The six-year-old is all about having fun and being happy. But these two joys Rhett has come to love wouldn’t have been a part in his life if it weren’t for a fighting spirit and a few miracles along the way.
Life is a precious, and the Stott family learned that lesson through their young motocross star.
Rhett’s incredible comeback story is a story that can inspire us all to care for what we have in the present and work hard for what we want in the future.
Tragedy Strikes Young
On June 16, 2017, in Preston, Idaho, Rhett, then four-years-old, experienced a life-changing accident that nearly killed him. On the last practice of the day, he hit a jump and crashed. In a flash, another rider came off the jump and landed on Rhett’s stomach.
An ambulance rushed Rhett to the local Preston Hospital. As a result of the accident, Rhett suffered a laundry list of injuries which included a handful of broken bones, eight broken ribs, a broken back in two places, a collapsed lung, and a stage five liver and spleen laceration.
“He was dying,” Rhett’s mother Elizabeth Stott said.
Doctors doubted that he would survive the life flight to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. Miraculously Rhett made it. Again, his doctor didn’t think he would survive the first surgery. But he continued fighting. Miracle after miracle continued to pave the way for his life.
Rhett’s artery connecting his heart to his liver was completely severed. There is really no method to fix an artery in such circumstances. When the doctors went in again to see what they could do, the artery was somehow completely healed.
Five surgeries and seven blood transfusions later, Rhett had beat the odds and survived the horrific accident. But his mother attributed his breakthrough to “God.”
“We were blessed,” Stott said.
News of his accident and recovery had spread around the nation. There was attention from national media outlets and professional motocross riders who reached out to show support and share Rhett’s story. According to his mother, he was the youngest motocross rider in the sport’s history to experience such an accident.
Although Rhett doesn’t remember anything about his accident or much of his time in the hospital, his scars tell the story of a painful recovery.
“When you almost lose your child like that, it’s really scary.” Stott said. “We had to say goodbye to him because they expected him to die. That’s pretty terrible for a parent.”
Making it to the Big Stage
Six months after the accident, Rhett revved his engine once again. As skeptical and hesitant as his parents were to allow him back on a motorcycle, Rhett’s desire to have fun and do what he loved overcame the doubts the family had.
The accident had set Rhett back and he wasn’t quite the same out on the dirt. All of 2018 was needed in order to get him back where he was before the accident.
One Stott family tradition is to share with the family at the beginning of the New Year what goals or things you look forward to achieving. During January, 2019, Rhett shared with the family that he wanted “to go to Loretta’s.” In other words, he wanted to go to the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Motocross Championships in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. The event is recognized as the “world’s largest amateur motocross race.” Loretta’s is sought after by many motocross enthusiasts because it’s the gateway into a professional career. Many big sponsors sign winners and a victory at Loretta’s can be the start of a professional motocross career.
With the full support of his family, Rhett raced hard. A rider has to qualify to participate in a few races to have a shot at Loretta’s. After qualifying, forty kids come to the first race which is known as the area race. The top 10 from that race then go on to a regional race where the top four racers make it to Loretta’s. The process is set up to find the best of the best in the world.
Rhett proved to be one of them. After qualifying for the area race, he finished in the top 10 and went to regionals. At the regional race, he took third place and stamped his ticket to Loretta’s.
The Fastest Rider in the West
After beating the odds in his life-threatening accident, Rhett beat out 600 other kids in order to make it to Loretta’s in the 51cc shaft drive class. Before the Stott family took off for the rolling hills of Tennessee in August 2019, Rhett was ranked as the fastest rider in the western part of the United States for his age group. A praiseworthy accomplishment in and of itself.
The Super-Bowl-like event for motocross riders welcomed in competitors from the United States, France, Japan and many other parts of the world.
At Loretta’s, each rider competes in three races. Based upon a rider’s finishes, the three races are then combined and averaged which ultimately determines the winners.
In his first race, Rhett finished sixth out of forty racers. However, in the second race, a switch on his motorcycle failed and turned his bike off. He didn’t finish the second race which dropped his average. In the third race, he lived up to his title as “the fastest rider in the west” and finished fifth place.
Had Rhett finished in the top ten during the second race, he would’ve finished fifth place at Loretta’s. However, his 42nd place finish during the second race dropped his final finish to 15th in the world for 4 to 6-year-olds.
“That’s pretty phenomenal considering he didn’t even finish the second race,” Stott said. “He was a lot of fun to watch.”
Reflecting on the Experience
As for what’s next for the fastest rider in the west, Rhett sums it up in a few words.
“I want to go to Loretta’s again,” Rhett said.
As for his mother, she has learned a great deal over the last two years.
“Because I’m scared of something, I can’t let it affect their dreams,” Stott said. “I can’t let fear control life. Sometimes kids are made to do something and he is obviously supposed to be here. If I let fear rule you would never progress or get anywhere. I could have stopped it and he would’ve never made it to Loretta’s and experienced what he experienced.”
While the future remains unwritten, Rhett has a great chance of going professional. The very sport that nearly took his life is the same sport that has given and offered him so much.