BLACK & WHITE ON BILLY BOB BROWN
Mary McCashin for Real American Cowboy Magazine
As you watch team roper, Billy Bob Brown back into a roping box, focused on nothing but the job at hand, it’s hard to imagine this cowboy was not meant to survive longer than a week after birth. Nodding his head and leaping forward, swinging his rope with such force, yet control, it’s hard to imagine he was once, somewhat, restricted in sporting activities.
Yet, it’s hard to imagine not seeing this talented roper in an arena as he throws his loop over the beasts head and dallies swiftly setting up his partner to take his shot. With all the odds stacked against him since birth, Brown proves time and time again that nothing can stand in the way of his dreams and what some would say, he was born to do.
Born with his heart in the wrong cavity, and a collapsed lung, Brown was given less than a week to survive. However, God had a different plan for cowboy people now call the ‘1991 Miracle Baby’, as it was his heart and will to survive that pushed him through the surgeries and physical restrictions, as a child, his condition brought upon him. Although he can’t remember too much from those earlier years, he does recall having to sit on the sidelines during basketball games due to minor affects; affects which since have disappeared.
It’s been a long running joke in the Brown family that he was born with a rope in his hands, following in his father, Kris’s footsteps; who was also a Champion in the rodeo arena. An all-around cowboy, Kris did everything from tie-down roping to riding broncs and bulls before eventually retiring to team roping. Brown’s mother, D’aun was also a hand with a rope, claiming the reserve world title in 1994 team roping and his sister, Kristal competed through high school and college. It seemed almost fate that Brown would end up in the rodeo arena and his family wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Coached by his father, and supported by his late grandfather, Brown wasted no time learning the family traditions; with all signs pointing towards the roping end of the arena. A natural born talent with swinging a rope, Brown competed in both calf roping and team roping and by high school he had claimed the 2009 Texas High School Rodeo Association State Champion calf roping title. The following year Brown took home the 2010 Texas High School Rodeo Association State Champion team roping title and history quickly began to write itself with this ‘Miracle Baby’.
Being involved heavily in the rodeo world and seeing how peoples’ lives developed around the sport, Brown’s parents raised him stressing the importance of a good education. With that being said, he opted not to immediately buy his rookie card and head out on the road, but fulfill a promise he made to his parents and attend college; further pursuing his education.
Attending Tarleton State University, Brown, who chose a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Agriculture, wasted no time joining the rodeo team and has since gone on the write his name in the history books forever. Claiming back to back Collegiate National Team Roping titles, with his partner Logan Medlin, the duo are now dominating across the country as they juggle studies and rodeoing while chasing their dreams.
Now on the road traveling thousands of miles each week, Brown credits his education for being able to manage money well and keep track while on the road. Logging everything in an ‘expense journal’, he stresses the importance of doing this, as many rodeo athletes know the expenses that come with the dream of riding in the Thomas and Mack.
A habit that takes some cowboys years to learn, Brown is able to use the journal to also determine exactly where his money is going and discuss with his sponsors; helping to determine what areas he needs more help financially with also. Brown is currently sponsored by Bob Bruner and Bruner Farms, Cactus Ropes, Rock N Roll Panhandle Slim, Resistol Hats and Chute Help, who he proudly represents and is so grateful in helping him get down the road.
Like with most cowboys on the PRCA circuit, wearing a gold buckle proudly for the rest of their lives is a common dream. However, seemingly wise beyond his years, Brown knows it takes one step at a time and hopes to firstly claim the 2014 Rookie of the Year title; before eventually taking home a World Champion title. And with someone who holds 19 of those coveted World Champion titles, Trevor Brazile, as a mentor, it’s easy to see why Brown’s focuses are on not only the rodeo arena but outside of it also.
One of the many lessons he stresses he has learned along the way is to never be content with what you have; you can always be better. If you think you’re done learning or improving you’re wrong because this sport is 90% mental and you just have to love it and want to win. It’s with this attitude that makes Brown stand out to the next generation also; as many look up to the encouraging team roper. Always urging them to strive for improvement and stay on top of business, Brown makes it a priority to be able to talk with anyone who reaches out to him for advice or ‘just to talk’.
With the 2014 season well under way, there are a lot more miles ahead for Brown and Medlin as they get set to compete in some of the biggest rodeos on the circuit. Always grateful for his sponsors, his incredible support team and the opportunity he has been given, it’s hard to think this ‘Miracle Baby’ is only 23 years old.
With passion and determination that shines bright in his eyes as he talks of one day hoping to go down in history as one of the best, both in and out of the arena, it’s hard not to be inspired by the cowboy who wasn’t supposed to live longer than a week. Some might say he had excellent doctors and his survival was a medical miracle, but without a doubt regardless if he was born with his heart in the wrong cavity, it’s his heart and passion that has kept pushing him to get where he is today.
And that’s why they call him the ‘Miracle Baby’.
Photography courtesy Breely Medlin – Miss B’s Photography
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An adventurer, fun-loving free spirited cowgirl, Mary McCashin is a freelance journalist who is appearing in Real American Cowboy Magazine more and more often and building a huge following. Mary tackles ANY story and asks the up close and personal questions that make all the difference in a great article
A hard worker with a strong agricultural and equine background, Mary stays busy with her horses in Tennessee though she’s up for just about anything – she recently spent a week in California climbing and having her version of a rodeo-vacation