If you’re familiar with the sport of rodeo at all, whether it be as a fan, a participant, a stock contractor, an announcer, a music director or anything in between, you’ve heard of and are familiar with the name Lane Frost.
It was on this day 33 years ago, that the cowboy who hung his hat in La Junta, Otero County, Colorado, went to the big arena in the sky. Now, at the time of Lane’s birth, his parents were residing in Lapoint, Utah. But according to sources, Lane’s father Clyde was rodeoing at the time and his mother Elsie, went to stay with her parents in Kim, Colorado, not from the hospital in La Junta, where Lane was born.
He has an older sister, Robin and a younger brother, Cody. At a young age, young Lane took a liking to the sport of bull riding and when he was old enough to ride on his own, Lane’s mom Elsie made his first pair of chaps for him. Being a typical mom, when their does things they aren’t fond of, or don’t feel it’s safe for them do, Elsie was hoping that perhaps one day, Lane would grow out of this bull riding phase that entered his spirit at such a young age.
In his later years, Lane would win a number of titles in the rodeo world, one of those being the 1981 Bull Riding Championship in the National High School Finals Rodeo Association, which was held in Douglas, Wyoming, when he was a high school junior.
He graduated from Atoka High School in Atoka, Oklahoma in 1982. In 1983, he received a full membership in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association of more commonly referred to as simply the “PRCA” at age 19. He would finish 16th in the World Standings and the top 15 in each event advance to the National Finals Rodeo each year.
His traveling partner at the time, Jacky Gibbs, occupied the 15th spot in the standings that year. Frost was named 1983 runner-up for the “Rookie of the Year” that year also. He competed in the 1983 “Super Bull” competition in Del Rio, Texas. It was at this event that he received the “Tough Luck Award,” for his gritty effort.
Fast forward to 1989, in July of that year Lane and his wife, Kellie were going to try their hands at stunt doubles in the movie “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”, which was about a bull rider that comes home to Oklahoma.
Lane was scheduled to have a small speaking role in the film. But first, Lane, not letting the stunt double opportunity get in the way of his love for rodeo and bull riding, took time to go to Cheyenne, Wyoming, to participate in the world-renowned “Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo” which is held in Cheyenne, Wyoming every July. Lane let Kellie stay behind to work on the movie.
After Lane made the right second requirement on his second bull of the rodeo, sportscaster George Michael, whom often interviewed the cowboy from Colorado and a friend of his, spoke with Frost, in what would unfortunately become Frost’s last interview.
George said to Lane, “But you just had to give the crowd a thrill with that dismount!” Lane had somersaulted over the tail of the bull at the end of his ride. Four days later, on July 30, 1989, Lane drew a bull named “Takin’ Care of Business,” after getting him ridden, Frost dismounted but was hit by the bull breaking ribs and severing a main artery and the Lane Clyde Frost died moments later at the age of 25 on the dirt of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
If you get a chance today, watch the Cheyenne Frontier Days and tip your hat to the man that died doing what he loved. I wasn’t alive in ‘89, but the way Lane lived and loved is evident with every rodeo I watch. He may not be here on Earth, but his legacy will never die. Rest In Peace, Cowboy! Good ride, good ride.