Jimmy Morris watched 'heroes in the sport die doing this.' He feared his son had suffered the same fate at Guthrie rodeo.
Jimmy Morris feared his son was dead.
Morris rushed from the grandstands at the Lazy E Arena onto the dirt floor where his son, Lukasey, lay unconscious after being tossed from a bucking bull during Thursday night's short round of the National High School Finals Rodeo.
Had Lukasey made it to the whistle, the 17-year-old bull rider from Union City likely would have been the national high school bull riding champion, just like his father was in 1989.
"One second you are hoping your kid is going to win the national title and the next second you are hoping he lives," Morris said.
Lukasey was put on a gurney and mediflighted from the Guthrie arena to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City where he stayed until his release Monday. Morris told The Oklahoman on Tuesday night that his son suffered "two small brain bleeds" but was doing well, except for still acting disoriented at times and experiencing memory loss.
"His brain is still struggling with some issues," Morris said. "This could be a week-long ordeal or the doctor said it could last a year. We don't really know. It's a waiting game."
Doctors will reevaluate Lukasey in a month but expect him to fully recover, Morris said. Until then, Lukasey is supposed to rest and not lift anything heavier than a milk jug.
Morris thinks Lukasey was knocked unconscious when the back of his head hit the arena floor. He was wearing a helmet as required by the National High School Rodeo Association.
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"He went from face down on top of the bull and did a back flip and hit his head on the ground," Morris said. "You couldn't have grabbed him by the ankles and slapped him on the ground any harder."
Lukasey was going to join the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association upon turning 18 next month and begin chasing his dream of making the National Finals Rodeo. He planned to travel to rodeos with three-time NFR bull riding qualifier Ty Wallace, Morris said.
That plan is now on hold as Lukasey recovers. In the hospital, Lukasey told nurses he would ride bulls again. His father said time will tell.
"I feel like in my heart he probably will, but right now I am worried about my kid having a normal life," said Morris, who retired from professional bull riding 20 years ago. "I am worried about other things rather than will he ride bulls again."
In 1989, Morris became the first high school bull riding champion from Oklahoma since his friend and mentor, Lane Frost, won the title in 1981.
Morris grew up in Atoka and Frost was a 1982 graduate of Atoka High School. As a young teen in Atoka, Morris idolized Frost, who was the 1987 Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association world champion. Morris often went to Frost's home to ride his bulls.
"He told me to come get on bulls any time. He tried to help me out," Morris said. "I went over there twice a week most weeks."
Morris celebrated his 1989 national high school championship on the same day that Frost was killed by a bull in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo. Frost was just 25 years old. Four years later, Morris earned his biggest victory as a pro in Cheyenne.
"I have seen my heroes in the sport die doing this," Morris said. "I know how real it is."