ProRodeo Sports News - Oct.4, 2019


“I don’t know if I went to heaven or hell because I don’t remember it. I do remember bouncing off the table when they shocked me out of it.” – BRUCE FORD

PRCA ProRodeo photo by James Phifer Bruce Ford, left, was an honored guest at the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo shortly after losing a leg to diabetes. Doug Kafka helped the five-time world champion bareback rider walk into the arena.

Another Chance

Bruce Ford’s life changed after a brush with death

BY MATT NABER B ruce Ford’s heart stopped. But the five-time PRCA world champion bareback rider and ProRodeo Hall of Famer was given a second chance at life. About five years ago, the cowboy with type-1 diabetes was admitted to the hospital with a lethal blood-sugar level of 1,800 and his heart stopped beating. It took a defibrillator to bring him back to life. “I don’t know if I went to heaven or hell because I don’t remember it,” Ford said. “I do remember bouncing off the table when they shocked me out of it.” There was a lot more life left in the Colorado cowboy. PRORODEO CAREER Born Oct. 7, 1952, in Greeley, Colo., Ford is known for breaking or tying numerous bareback riding records during his career, including all- time bareback riding earnings, most qualifications to the National Finals Rodeo (18) and tying for most bareback riding world champion titles with five (1979-80, 1982-83, 1987). He was also the PRCA regular-season champion in 1978, a 10-time Mountain States Circuit bareback riding champion and in 1982 became the first cowboy to win more than $100,000 in a single event in one year. “I’m the same ol’ boy I was when I was starting out, I like to keep both

feet on the ground,” Ford said. “I always set up my goals in priorities, and if you do it that way, you’ll make it – have God first, family second and rodeo third.” Ford still holds the bareback riding record in Nampa, Idaho, with his 90-point ride on Slim Jim in 1982. “I bought him (Slim Jim) fromMike Cervi later on, and to have him in my little indoor arena when someone wanted to get on him was pretty neat,” Ford said. In 1993, he was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and the subject of a documentary, “Colorado Cowboy: The Bruce Ford Story.” A few years later, his son, Royce, followed in his footsteps as a ProRodeo bareback rider, making eight trips to the Wrangler NFR (2003- 09 and 2011) and winning more than $1.06 million. After retiring from competition, Bruce Ford remained active by putting on rodeo schools and occasionally climbing in the chutes until he was 55. “Then the old diabetes got ahold of me, and I lost a toe, a leg and a finger, and I have to get a shot in the eyes every 45 days,” Ford said. ROLLING WITH THE PUNCHES Ford was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes in 1989. He continued to compete in rodeo, until about five years ago when he lost his leg to diabetes, the same reason his grandmother lost her legs. “They said they had to take my leg, and I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do

ProRodeo Sports News 10/4/2019


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