Lane Frost

The professional rodeo cowboy Lane Clyde Frost was born on 12th October 1963, in La Junta, Colorado, USA, and pronounced dead on 30th July 1989 at just 25 years old, after being severely injured at the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days event. Lane is famous for competing in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and being the only rider to successfully ride Red Rock, a bull who had never been ridden in competition before, and was voted Bucking Bull of the Year by the PRCA in 1987.

When Lane was born, the Frost family lived in Utah, however, his father often travelled as a competing bareback and saddle bronc rider, so his mother went to stay with her family in Colorado, perhaps not expecting to give birth during the trip. Lane was brought up alongside his siblings, Robin and Cody.

Lane’s first riding experience came at five or six years old, when he would practice on dairy calves. He won his first awards aged 10 at the “Little Buckaroos” rodeo events, excelling in the calf riding, calf roping, and bareback categories. During his junior high school years, Lane also participated in wrestling competitions. Around that time, the family moved to Oklahoma.

In 1981, Lane was declared the National High School Bull Riding Champion. A year later, he was named Bull Riding Champion in an event held in Texas.

Career

After completing his high school education, Lane followed in his father’s footsteps and became part of the PRCA as a full-time rodeo cowboy. Aged 24, he was declared the World Champion Bull Rider by the PRCA and was considered something of a minor celebrity. Although hundreds had tried and failed to ride Red Rock, Lane would do so in 1988, successfully riding him in four exhibition matches. The professional bull rider also competed at the Rodeo ’88 Challenge Cup.

The showdowns between Lane and Red Rock took place at rodeos across the Western states, in a special competition created by John Growney. The Challenge of the Champions was a one-off event which has yet to be replicated, and proved to be enormously helpful in boosting the popularity of rodeos and bull riding amongst the general public.

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Death & Legacy

Lane’s life was cut short in July 1989 in a tragic accident at a riding event in Wyoming. After riding a Brahma bull named Takin’ Care of Business, Lane landed in the mud after dismounting; the bull then broke several of his ribs by pressing his right horn into Lane’s back and pushing him against the arena floor.

Initially, Lane stood up to wave for help before collapsing onto the ground, which caused his broken ribs to puncture his lungs and heart. Despite being rushed to a nearby hospital, there was nothing doctors could do for him, as he was already dead. Lane’s resting place is Mount Olivet Cemetery.

In the aftermath of Lane’s death, his travelling partner Cody Lambert created the protective vest now worn by professional cowboys when bull riding. The vest was made mandatory in 1996 to avoid similar accidents. “8 Seconds”, a biopic of his life, was released in 1994, with Luke Perry playing the leading role. Two years later, the Lane Frost/Brent Thurman Award was created by the PBR.

Having become something of a legend after his death, Lane has been paid tribute to by many musicians, such as Garth Brooks and the Smokin’ Armadillos. Randy Schmutz also wrote a song about him, “A Smile Like That”. In the decades since Lane’s passing, many artists have paid homage to him in their music videos.

In 2008, a documentary was released covering the match between Lane and Red Rock at the Challenge of the Champions. Seven years later, the racing car driver Austin Dillon reportedly paid tribute to Frost by waving to the crowd after surviving an accident during a racing event in Daytona.

Lane has been honored countless times since his death and inducted into the ProRodeo, Texas Cowboy, Bull Riding, Rodeo, and Cheyenne Frontier Halls of Fame. In 1999, he was also rewarded the PBR Ring of Honor.

Despite being married at the time of his death, Lane had no children. Lane’s widow, Kellie, remarried in 1993 and has two children who just happen to be youth rodeo competitors; her second husband, Mike Macy, is also a two-time National Finals Rodeo team roping competitor.

Contemporaries

Although Lane is considered amongst the best bull riders of all time, others such as Tuff Hedeman and Ty Murray are equally respected in the professional riding scene – for example, Hedeman, has toured the US for decades and won three PCRA World Championships, later co-founding and becoming the president of the PBR organization.

Similar to Lane, Tuff began riding in his childhood years and won competitions in New Mexico. Despite being rivals, Tuff and Lane developed a close friendship; when the latter died, Tuff would later name his first son after him.

Meanwhile, Ty Murray is a skilled bull rider dubbed “The King of Cowboys” and known for his seven All-Around World Championship titles. After making history as the youngest-ever winner of a World Championship, his rodeo career went from strength to strength, and he’s currently listed as the rider who has won the most money over the course of his career.

Ty is revered for his ability to compete in three of the most dangerous rodeo events: bareback, saddle bronc, and bull riding. He was taught by his father, and began bull riding at just eight years old, and is also a co-founder of the PBR organization along with Tuff and other riders.

Last but not least is Freckles Brown, a hall of fame rodeo cowboy born in Wheatland, Wyoming. From 1937 to 1974, Freckles competed in team roping, saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding, and steer wrestling. In 1962, he was declared the World Bull Riding Champion, and he was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame 17 years later. The influence Freckles had on Lane is undeniable, as the pair were said to have been on good terms until Lane’s death.

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