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Jesse's Bio
Jesse's Bio

bio
Meet Jesse James
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On the surface, with his collection of skulls, pet sharks, pit bulls and tattoos, Jesse James is the consummate motorcycle outlaw. Some of this comes naturally — after all, his great-great-grandfather was the famous outlaw's cousin. But this image is only a small part of Jesse James' persona: There's also his passion as an artisan, his love for his children and his success at custom-building bikes (chronicled in Motorcycle Mania and Motorcycle Mania 2). Jesse has also proven his skills as a master builder in Monster Garage, the Discovery Channel series which wrapped up it's final fifth season June 2006.

Originally from Long Beach, Calif., Jesse grew up around his father's antiques business. His dad's small shop was quartered in a shared warehouse with a large aftermarket parts manufacturer for Harley-Davidsons and sport bikes. One of Jesse's earliest recollections is playing around those magnificent, gleaming two-wheeled speed machines. Such early experiences fueled the visions of his future.

Jesse got his first minibike at 7, and with that thrill his passion for choppers knew no boundaries. He made his first crude motorcycle exhaust system during his freshman year of high school in his mother's garage. His perfectionism, however, prevented him from keeping it around; he threw it away before anyone saw it.

Jesse excelled in sports, playing linebacker for his high-school football team. He went on to play football at the University of California at Riverside, barely making ends meet as a student athlete. Jesse even remembers counting quarters to pay his $175 tuition bill. A knee injury kept him from continuing his athletic career.

With sports out of the picture as a career, Jesse then trained to become a professional bodyguard. He worked for many A-list bands, including Soundgarden, Danzig and Slayer, and traveled the globe on tour with them. During this time he met his former wife, with whom he shares two children, a 5-year-old son, Jesse Jr., and a 7-year-old daughter, Chandler. After an injury sustained at a show, Jesse decided to leave the bodyguard business to pursue something that he has loved from childhood: motorcycles. He began working for the famous hot-rod builder Boyd Coddington and learned everything he could. Then Jesse set out on his own.

Jesse began West Coast Choppers in 1992 in a corner of a friend's garage. He started with no loan and no partners, and built it from the ground up, in the painstaking way Jesse builds his bikes. Now he has over 50 employees — his 18,000-square-foot facility in Long Beach, Calif., is being quickly outgrown — and sells his bikes for $60,000 to $150,000 each to a clientele that includes celebrities such as Shaquille O'Neal, Kid Rock and model Tyson Beckford.

Jesse James sometimes can't believe that he gets paid so well to do what he loves. Of course, Jesse's other great loves are spending time with his children and riding his bike with the gleaming chrome, day-glo metal-flake paint and 140-horsepower engine.

So if you see him pull up next to you, be not afraid. Jesse James may ride again, but it's not what you might expect — this man just loves his life!


Pictures: DCI |

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