LANE FROST'S LEGACY LIVES ON 30 YEARS AFTER HIS PASSING
BY TRACY RENCK | JUL 30, 2019
COLORADO SPRINGS – The date is etched in rodeo history – July 30, 1989.
That is the day the rodeo world lost a legend in PRCA World Champion Bull Rider Lane Frost.
Frost passed away as a result of injuries sustained when the bull he was riding struck him after a ride during the short round at the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Frontier Days Rodeo. Frost was 25.
Frost won the 1987 PRCA world championship. He would have been 55 years old this year.
“The thing that has surprised me the most is how his legacy has lived on,” said Frost’s mother, Elsie. “I just never dreamed after 30 years that anyone would even mention him or remember him, and of course, we have to give the movie ‘8 Seconds’ a little bit of credit for that. Our grandson (Stetson Frost) started a Lane Frost Brand that has really taken off and that has really helped bring Lane’s name back around too. Of course, in some ways, it seems like yesterday (that it happened) and other ways it seems like quite some time ago. I know he would be so proud that people still remember him.”
The late Luke Perry portrayed Frost in the movie “8 Seconds,” which debuted Feb. 25, 1994.
Although the movie wasn’t quite a true depiction of Frost’s real-life story, the movie played a key role in keeping Frost’s legacy alive.
Making a name, becoming a legend
Frost’s family moved from Utah to Lane, Okla., in 1978.
“When we first moved to Oklahoma, Lane wasn’t well-known,” recalled Frost’s sister, Robin Muggli. “When we got to Oklahoma, I was a senior in high school, and he was a freshman. He pulled a much, much stronger rope than anybody I have ever known. One of the first rodeos we went to, we were at Duncan (Okla.) at the rodeo and Lane said you’re going to have to come pull my rope. Well, back then, it was very, very frowned on for girls to be behind the chute. I didn’t want to do it, but he said he couldn’t find anybody else who he trusted to do it. I went back behind the chute, which immediately made the stock contractor mad, and he was screaming at me.
“I had pulled his rope many times, but on this bull, I could not get it tight enough. Somebody else jumped up there to pull the rope and they couldn’t pull the rope either. They had to get two, great-big guys who finally got it tight enough for him. He rode the bull and won the rodeo. From then on, he was known in the area.”
He’s not just known in the area anymore.
“I have a Western store (Frost Ranch Wear) in Atoka (Okla.),” Muggli said. “Cowboys and kids stop through here, and what blows my mind is the young kids, anywhere in age from 4 to 12 to 19, are just as excited about him and enamored with him today as they were 10 years ago. It blows my mind. He was gone 20 years before some of these kids were even born and they still are excited about him as ever.”
Elsie believes faith played a role in people gravitating to Frost.
“I have said all along I think God gave Lane the personality that he did to draw people to him, because God knew the big picture in what was going to happen,” Elsie said. “Lane liked everybody. It didn’t matter if you were 80 or 8, he wanted to visit with you. He was bad at remembering names, but he never forgot your face. If he saw somebody a year later that he visited with at that rodeo, he remembered them. He had a God-given talent to draw people to him.”
Tuff Hedeman was Frost’s best friend. Just months after Frost’s death, Hedeman was crowned the 1989 PRCA World Champion Bull Rider.
“The reality of it is, is he was as advertised,” Hedeman said. “He was the coolest, best guy you would ever meet. He was The Guy when he was alive. He was the kind of guy if you ever wanted to be somebody, you wanted to be him. He was to everybody, not to just me. He was a very genuine, sincere, kind guy. I still stay in touch with his mother and father (Clyde), and I think we continue to be amazed that he’s a bigger deal now than he was 30 years ago. I think that is rare is any walk of life.”
Elsie said her faith is how she dealt with the death of her son.
“I don’t know how anyone can lose a child without the faith in God and without God to give them the comfort and assurance that he’s in Heaven,” she said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s in Heaven because he accepted Jesus as his savior and that was only about a year-and-a-half before he died that he did that. We know we are going to see him some day and that’s a comfort. Even though we have missed him for 30 years and the hurt is still there, we know we are going to see him someday.”
About five years after Lane’s passing, Elsie said paperback New Testament Bibles were printed with a picture of Lane on the front.
“We have given away about 330,000 of those bibles over the years,” said Elsie, who gives the Bibles away through her Bible ministry. “On the inside front cover, I tell them about Lane’s salvation and how to be saved so that anyone who reads it knows what they need to do to accept Jesus as their personal savior.”
Frost, who was posthumously inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 1990, has had a lasting impact on bull riders today – few of whom were born before he died. That includes PRCA bull rider Sage Kimzey, 24, who has won five consecutive PRCA world championships.
“Anybody who walks into a rodeo arena now, Lane had some influence on whether it be through old cowboy stories or from the movie (8 Seconds) or whatever the reason may be,” Kimzey said. “I feel like everybody looks up to him. I watched videos of Lane riding, and I think everybody has watched 8 Seconds about a million times. With him leaving this Earth too soon, he became that larger-than-life character. I know for me at least, and my generation of cowboys, it was always when you grow up you wanted to be like Lane Frost. There are only a handful of icons in bull riding, and Lane is definitely one of them – not only how he rode bulls, but how he carried himself and the person he was.”
The fact Frost became a bull rider was no surprise to Elsie.
“His dad was a saddle bronc rider and a bareback rider and bulldogged, and most kids wanted to do what their dad did, but not Lane,” Elsie said. “From the time he was litte bitty, he wanted to be a bull rider. He had a lot of God-given talent, but he also worked at it hard. He did whatever it took to do what he wanted to do. That’s what I remember, just his passion for it. We would have much rather had him choose something else to do, but you just can’t deny a child who has that much passion for something. You want them to do what they want to do, and I’ve always said, if he had to go that would have been his choice of the way to go. He just loved it so much.”
Muggli echoed her mom.
“All in all, I don’t know how you would have changed things because Lane wanted to ride bulls from a really, really young age, and it was obvious that’s all he wanted to do,” she said. “There’s no way you could have changed things even knowing what was going to happen because you wouldn’t have been able to convince him not to have gotten on. There was no option for another event, he only wanted to be a bull rider. I still hate that it happened (that he passed away riding a bull), but I don’t know how you would have changed it.”