The professional world of bull riding is not for the faint of heart. If you've ever been to the Texas rodeo or attended an event held by the professional rodeo cowboys association you know that it is quite literally a life and death career for bull riding champions. Even the most skilled rider has to be careful, knowing the dangers they face when riding a 1700 lb animal, clinging for dear life in order to get the most points.
While there are countless well-known professional bull riders out there, Lane Frost will always be remembered as one of the all-time greats. He was a PRCA World Championship winner and ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee all before his 25th birthday. His life was sadly cut short at the young age of 25 after suffering life-threatening injuries from a bucking bull in the arena. His story forever lives on in the film 8 Seconds which covered his rise to the top of the rodeo industry.
The Real Lane Frost
Lane grew up in Atoka County, Oklahoma, the son of Clyde Frost, a bareback rider who also made his rounds in the rodeo. He learned to ride at a young age and by the time he was in high school, he was named the National High School Bull Riding Champion. After graduation, Lane became a professional rider, competing against some of the biggest names in the industry.
In his early 20s, Lane became well-known for not only being a world champion but for being the only person to successfully ride the Bucking Bull of the Year, Red Rock.
Lane passed away on July 30, 1989, after competing in Wyoming's Cheyenne Frontier Days. After dismounting from what would be his last ride, the bull Takin' Care of Business turned and hit him in the back with his horn. The hit ended up breaking his ribs and after collapsing onto the ground, it caused his heart and lungs to get punctured. It was a tragic loss, with Lane leaving behind friends and family including his wife of five years, Kellie Kyle Frost. He was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Hugo, Okla. close to another rodeo hero, Freckles Brown.
''It would be easy for me to say no, it doesn`t give me any second thoughts, but it probably will down the line,'' Tuff Hedeman told the Chicago Tribune following Lane's death when asked if the loss of his friend would affect the way he feels about the rodeo.
''It would be easy for me to say this is a dangerous event and we have to accept this. But down the line, the next time I get on a bull, it`s going to be hard for me to swallow knowing my best friend in life lost his life doing it. I`m having my best year since 1986 (when he was world champion), but after Sunday, that doesn`t seem to mean much. It seems meaningless right now.''
Today, Lane's legacy lives on through his family's maintaining of the Lane Frost brand. But even his parents have not forgotten what happened the day they lost their son.
"Odd things happened that day, they got in late from the Canada runs," his mom Elsie Frost told KTEN.
"He forgot his glove. And...that's just... you don't do that ... When he went and got on the bull, there was a payphone behind the chutes, and it rang, and Lane said, 'We better hurry, boys, that call will be for me,' and he asked for his bull... and that was just kind of odd."
Following Lane's death, his friend Cody Lambert began making safety vests that protect bull riders from injuries similar to what Lane endured. It's possible that if these vests existed at the time, he could have survived the incident.
The film got its title because bull riders are required to stay on the bull for a total of 8 seconds to get full points. Luke Perry stars as Lane, the young man from Oklahoma who dreams of getting into the world of bull riding. Stephen Baldwin co-starred as Lane's good friend and fellow rodeo star, Tuff Hedeman, who was there on the day he died. Released a decade after his passing, his late wife Kellie was actually involved in the making of the film and included some of their private marital problems to make sure the film was as authentic to Lane's life as possible.
"This is kind of a closing chapter, after the premiere, and after the movie's coming out, for me," Kellie explained in an interview with Bobbie Wygant in 1994.
"We chose to do it and I think it was a great tribute to Lane so that's the most important thing right there for me."
During filming, Luke Perry developed a good relationship with Lane's family members, frequently asking questions to make sure that he was capturing the late rodeo star as accurately as possible.
"He wasn't someone that thought he was a movie star and couldn't talk to people," Elsie Frost told AP News following Luke Perry's death in 2019.
"He was very down to Earth. When we made the movie, he said he had never played anyone that was a real person before, and he was so conscientious of wanting to do it the way it should be done. He would come to us and ask us, 'How would Lane talk in a situation like this?' And he watched a lot of video of Lane, so he actually had some mannerisms like Lane and actually, he looked quite a bit like Lane once they got his hat on him and stuff. It was kind of eerie."