Bull rider with titanium hip pursues his rodeo dream
When bull rider Austin Adams leaves the chute atop a feisty bull this week at the International Finals Youth Rodeo, he’ll have one thing no other contestant has — a titanium hip allowing him to pursue the sport he loves.
A severe horse-riding accident in 2010 left Adams injured and wheelchair-bound for months because of a hip injury. Doctors said his life as a teenager would never be the same and he underwent full hip replacement surgery.
Despite the advice of numerous doctors to give up his love of riding bulls, Adams had his own ideas and continues to pursue his dream.
“I’m a strong believer in what God can do in my life,” he said. “I believe he gave me a second chance for a reason – I’m still doing the sport I love to do.”
Adams has been riding bulls just a few short years. He tried steer wrestling, but found he wasn’t any good at it.
When he saw bull riding, he knew that’s what he wanted to do, he said, “and from the first time I was thumped on the head,” he said he was hooked.
“It’s not something people get to do every day,” he said, adding it’s a dangerous sport and one he knows he has to be willing to die for.
“I’d rather die doing something l love than wishing I’d pursued something I love,” he said. “If you’re not following your dreams, you’re not living.”
And with such a dangerous sport, it’s a bit ironic he was injured while horse riding and not while riding a bull for eight seconds.
It was August in 2010 — Friday the 13th to be exact — when Adams said he jumped on his horse bareback for a quick ride, taking off full blast down a usual trail. For whatever reason, the horse, Jen, veered off the path and he collided with a tree, causing multiple injuries, fractures, torn cartilage and muscle and blowing his hip out of socket.
Stunned and unable to move, Adams calmly called his mother and said he had been thrown from his horse and asked her to pick him up. She arrived and managed to get him to the emergency room. He went through a first surgery that left him walking on crutches “crooked,” he said, and underwent a full hip replacement in February 2011.
“Doctors told me life as I knew it was over,” Adams said. “I gave up cage fighting, football, track, and basketball.”
He underwent physical therapy rehabilitation for months and was finally released in June 2011. While bullriding also was one of those things doctors said he should give up, Adams had no intention of doing so.
Without telling his parents, he would often sneak out at night to practice bull riding on a drop barrel. With his new hip, he even entered a rodeo and competed without their knowledge, he said.
When they found out, they hoped he had it out of his system for his own health, but Adams said, “I feel like I’m just getting started.”
Adams didn’t listen to his doctor.
“He told me to give up on my dreams,” Adams said, adding he wanted to give the doctor a piece of his mind, but remained polite. And so his journey began to recondition himself and adapt to bull riding with his new hip.
He still gets up every morning and does a workout, including stretching and weight training, and also rides horses or gets on bulls, he said.
And since he’s a “Rocky junky,” and a fan of every Rocky movie, he has that same grit and determination to rise above the challenges of his hip, he said.
“Everyone looks at me as the underdog,” he said.
And while a wrong move walking – or being thrown from a bull – could forever change his life and even paralyze him, Adams said it’s worth the risk to do what he loves.
When he rides, he tries to protect his hip by wearing a girdle as well as wrapping his hips in bandages.
“I’m not as strong on the left side as I should be … but I’ve learned how to gain more balance,” he said, adding he adjusts his riding to take stress off of his hip.
And while he’s been bucked off a few times since getting his new hip, he knew bull riding wasn’t something he would give up on doing.
“I’m not good – I’m just blessed,” he said. “I try really hard to do my best and let the Lord do the rest.”
So “with the strength of Sampson and the faith of David,” Adams said he works through the pain and does his best.
“The bull’s not going to care if you’re hurt or not – pain is part of it,” he said.
And while he can still manage to ride bulls, there’s one thing he can’t do with his titanium hip, he said, and that’s sit “crisscross applesauce.”
His mom, Gina Adams, said her son inspires her and many others. And despite the dangers, she supports him in bull riding.
“I see a true heart’s desire in my son that I’ve never experienced,” she said, adding he wouldn’t accept what three surgeons told him.
And his pride was evident in a successful bull riding competition after the injury.
He said he jumped off the bull and told a reporter, “Not too bad for a 17-year-old with a fake hip.”
“I respect his desire to carry on,” his mother said, admitting she catches a lot of flak from her family who doesn’t understand, but she said she will be there for her son through “thick and thin.”
As with any hip replacement, Adams will be looking at future surgeries over the years, likely having to get it replaced or redone every 10 to 15 years, his mother said, and anything can cause him to have a new injury.
“He could get hurt going out the front door to school,” she said. ”I can’t imagine him doing anything else – I’ll be here for him and put him in the Lord’s hands.”
And while he’s tough and shows it, Adams also has a softer side and enjoy writing poems, his mother said.
“I’m proud of him, I support him, I am his biggest fan,” his mother said. “He doesn’t know the word ‘quit,’” she said.
And who knows, after this week, Adams, wearing back number 949, may just have a few more hundred fans from the IFYR.
He rode Monday but had no score. He’ll be up for a second go on Thursday night.
Adams will be a junior this fall. And while he may face a few more obstacles than other bull riders, Adams said he hopes to continue bull riding in college and even the PBR.
- Bull rider unscathed by ‘most dangerous 8 seconds in sports’ (gazette.com)
- Hickman bull rider pursues lifelong goal at national finals (columbiamissourian.com)
- How to Ride a Bull (answers.com)
- Interview and Giveaway With Multi-published Romance Author: Debra Kayn…. (mybookaddictionandmore.com)
- Rodeo: Big payday for bull rider (rapidcityjournal.com)
- 3 injured when lightning hits Darby rodeo grounds (billingsgazette.com)