A gentleman who never knew a stranger

Brent Thurman grinned his way through life. Some have said they did not know another person who liked to smile so much with their front teeth missing.  Not only was Brent a world-class champion bull rider, he was a motivator of life. 

Thurman was born in Austin, Texas on March 3, 1969 into a family of Central Texas supporters. His Mother, Kay Thurman, said, "Whatever was happening at the moment is what Brent wanted to do." Football, basketball, track and bay fishing were only a few of Thurman's athletic endeavors.  His second favorite sport was golf.  He won a city tournament and was determined to join the Senior PGA when he retired from bull riding.

Brent's bull riding career began at the fearless age of 8 at Cecil Hill's arena in Austin. Several bull rider's commended Thurman's unique style of riding.  He carried his free arm lower than most riders and used his feet more than his upper body. After Thurman's first professional career year ended in 1989, he went on to be ranked in the top 30 bull riders in the world.  He was plagued with small injuries for several years that kept him from qualifying for the national finals sooner.  He was also a three-time competitor in the Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo. 

In 1993, Thurman qualified for his first NFR. He finished fifth in the final standings that year and 13th in the 1994 Crown Royal World Standings. Four seconds into his 10th and final ride at the 1994 NFR in Las Vegas Brent was bucked off, became tangled in his leather rigging and fell beneath the bull’s hooves.  He never regained consciousness.

Great riders and friends like Ty Murray, Randy Thornton, Brian Herman and Michael Gaffney noted that many children looked up to Thurman who basically got along with everyone he met.  He volunteered in the special rodeos, competitions for physically and mentally disabled youth, and judged bull riding events throughout Texas in his spare time.  During this time Brent became involved with Ms. Candy Jones, the Director of the Program for Special Needs Children at Covington Middle School located in Austin, Texas. He would go to the school where he would serve as a volunteer.  He worked with the children in reading as well as with their horticultural projects.  This program became very special and dear to Brent’s heart and he planned to have a championship bull riding with the proceeds being endowed to this program.  He was very close to his family, loved children, loved a challenge and knew how to find humor and joy in life.

He was the perfect example of good attitude, devotion to his God and respect for his friends. He was a hero. He was a cowboy.
— Rodeo Video Magazine
We might have lost a bull rider, but we have gained an angel.
— Bob Tallman, Professional Rodeo Announcer
He lived everyday of his life exactly like he wanted. Brent lived more in twenty-five years, than I could if I lived to be a hundred.
— Kay (Brent’s Mom)