PUEBLO, Colo. – It was only five months ago that Stetson Lawrence was in the passenger seat as Cody Campbell was making the 13-hour trek from Tacoma, Washington, to Billings, Montana.
Lawrence had just fractured his hip 24 hours earlier and Campbell had volunteered to drive Lawrence home seeing as he was unable to take a plane ride.
Therefore, it came as no surprise that Lawrence was cruising down Interstate 80 with Jess Lockwood by his side Monday.
Lawrence offered to drive Lockwood to North Dakota after the 19-year-old broke four ribs, punctured a lung and lacerated his kidney after bucking off Blue Magic in 3.09 seconds on Saturday night.
“There is no sense in other people flying out, so I am going to return the favor,” Lawrence said on Sunday. “Cody Campbell did it for me, so I will do the same thing for another buddy.”
Oddly enough, Lockwood was hurt exactly five months to the day that Lawrence broke his hip in Tacoma.
Lockwood had to spend over 30 hours in the hospital this weekend and wasn’t released until late Sunday evening.
Just as he was there when Lockwood first rolled into the hospital on Saturday night in a wheel chair and oxygen mask on, Lawrence was there with open arms when the young bull rider was being discharged.
“I just know how it feels being in that situation,” Lawrence said. “You don’t have any family or friends around. It is just nice to have somebody there with you to pass time and make things easier.”
The two made it to Bismarck on Monday evening. Lockwood is spending the week with his friend Weston Hartman.
Lockwood, who is expected to miss four weeks because of his injuries, appreciated Lawrence’s act of kindness.
“That made a world of a difference to have a friend like that,” Lockwood said. “For him to help drive and everything meant a lot.”
The cowboy brothers of the PBR often room together, break bread and share battle stories on a weekly basis while traveling all across the United States during the season.
It is in those life and death situations in the arena, though, where you truly see the family aspect of the riders’ relationships front and center.
There is a unique bond that is shared between the group of professional bull riders that not many others can relate to. They are a select assembly of men brave enough to challenge 2,000-pound opponents in a sport that can kill them in a matter of seconds.
It is always nerve-racking for them when a fellow rider is down in the arena with an injury.
Lockwood has jumped into the arena multiple times this year when his good friend Derek Kolbaba has been injured.
In Big Sky, Montana, Lockwood leaped off the bucking chutes after Kolbaba was knocked unconscious.
In New York, Kolbaba was at the hospital with Lockwood until 3:30 a.m. keeping his pal company.
“Oh shoot, that is what the boys do,” Kolbaba said. “It is one of them sports that can be a little grueling. I am sure if I was in that position, they would all be there. It just makes you feel a little better. Obviously, it is far from home so that makes it a little tough. If you can have a good group of buddies help keep your spirits up when you are down, it just makes it a little easier.”
Lockwood said, “Oh that was super nice. It sucks sitting in the hospital hurt and being alone. They stayed the whole time I had to wait pretty much. I told them, ‘Heck you guys, have to go back and win.’
Win they did.
Kolbaba rode both of his bulls on Sunday afternoon to earn his third event victory of 2017, while Lawrence used an 84.5-point ride on Smokin’ Gun in Round 2 to propel himself to a sixth-place finish in Uniondale, New York.
Good karma certainly was in their favor.
Kolbaba is now only 775 points behind world leader Eduardo Aparecido, while Lawrence is ranked 16th in the standings and is six rides away from setting a new career-high for qualified rides.
“They both did pretty good,” Lockwood concluded. “So that was awesome.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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