Most people don’t go from lying by the roadside with a broken pelvis and a severed leg to landing a role on “Sons of Anarchy” in six years. South San Francisco native Kurt Yaeger isn’t most people.
Yaeger, who wears a prosthetic leg, plays Greg the Peg on the show’s fifth season, debuting Sept. 11 on FX.
Unlike many disabled television characters — think Becky Jackson on “Glee” or Walter White Jr. on “Breaking Bad” — Greg’s disability is downplayed.
“He’s pretty much like the rest of the guys — a cold-blooded, murdering bad fella,” Yaeger says.
The 35-year-old actor had a scrappy South City childhood. His childhood home, near Skyline Boulevard, backed up to acres of open space where he built obstacle courses and jumps for his bicycle.
He got into his fair share of fights at South San Francisco High School, where he graduated in 1996. Soon after, “Crowbar” was competing on the BMX circuit, turning years of backyard adventure into a career. At 26, physical injuries and concussions redirected him to college, studying hydrogeology.
All that changed in the early-morning hours of March 30, 2006, when a car forced Yaeger and his speeding motorcycle off the John Daly Boulevard exit. He hit a guardrail and a pole. When he woke up, he was 40 feet away from the pavement, his motorcycle still humming.
“I didn’t realize [my left leg] was almost completely off. I couldn’t move my right leg. I took off my helmet and tried to military-crawl, but it felt like the upper half of my body was separating from my lower half. I called 911, told them where I was, and told them to come get me,” Yaeger says. “I told them I would stay awake.”
Doctors amputated his leg and repaired his broken pelvis and back, but it was almost a year before he could walk again. In 2007, he turned to another childhood love — acting — and picked up an uncredited role in “Charlie Wilson’s War.”
He starred as war veteran Ben Keegan in the 2009 film “Tenderloin,” predominantly filmed in the gritty San Francisco neighborhood.
Numerous roles followed, but Greg the Peg is his biggest to date. Yaeger has also returned to BMX, making him one of the few amputees in the circuit.
“I love it when people tell me I can’t do something,” he says. “It’s like, ‘You wanna bet?’”