A lifetime of struggles has placed bull rider in position for greatness
When Laramie Mosley suffered a fractured neck last September and was forced to miss the rest of his promising season, it would have been easy for any competitor to get down in the dumps.
Mosley has been through worse, so his frustration didn’t last as long as it may have for other men. He knows what it means to be bounced around a bit. He knows what it means to have suffered great loss. Missing out on his first qualification to the National Finals Rodeo sucked, but he didn’t sulk for long. He used it as motivation.
“It emotionally wrecked me for a long time,” said Mosley, who finished the year 18th in the world standings while on injured reserve. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to overcome that. After three months into it, I figured I could sit back and sulk and quit, or I could do what I’ve done the rest of my life and get out of the mud and come back firing.”
If he was going to take time away from the game he loved, he was going to figure out a way to make things better. It’s the way he’s handled things his whole life, and he’s dealt with a lot for a 26-year-old man.
Born in Corsicana, Texas, he never really knew that as his home. He was 6 months old when his parents took a job managing a feedlot in Walsh, a community on the Plains in eastern Colorado. They moved to Saint Francis, Kansas, for a few years, then back to Walsh, all while in the feed-yard business, a prospering operation in cattle country.
His folks divorced when he was 12, and his mother died two years later. He moved in with his father some and lived with other families until his aunt, Trish Parrish, moved him to Sublette in southwest Kansas. He finished out his last three years of high school and found a true kinship with a man named Larry Phillips, who also served as a mentor.
Growing up near the pasturelands and wheat fields of western Kansas and eastern Colorado provided the nutrients for growth, just a bit different than many. He learned about life and sports and found a passion for riding bulls, and he had people like Parrish and Phillips who helped develop a passion for good.
“My mom and real dad … they always worked hard, but when I got with Larry, it was a whole new level of work,” said Mosley, 26, a Cinch endorsee now living in Palestine, Texas. “I learned how to work cows and ride a horse good. I always had work wherever I wanted to go. Now, if I need something or want something, I’m not scared to ask somebody if they want help. I managed a feed yard for Larry Phillips, so I actually know what it takes to do all that. I’m not afraid to work, and I got that by how I grew up.”
He graduated from Sublette High School in 2014, then found his way to the rodeo teams at Pratt (Kansas) Community College and Oklahoma Panhandle State University. Two years after wearing the cap and gown in Sublette, his father died. Just out of his teens, he had been through more than most people experience in a lifetime.
It didn’t define Laramie Mosley, but it did help him figure out who the man was that he wants to be.
“I feel like it was more motivation than anything,” he said. “I knew right at the point when I was in high school that I grew up a little bit. I could dwell on the past and my life, or I could let it be motivation.
“Maybe somebody would want to be like me, and I could be an example. If I can go from losing both my parents and still be successful and being a role model to somebody, then I’m going to do it. I could have gone the other way. I could be a drunk or on drugs or in jail, but I didn’t want that, and I didn’t want there to be any sort of doubt that I was going to be better than that.”
Fast forward to September 2021. He was ninth in the PRCA’s bull riding world standings and was hoping to close out his season with his first NFR qualification. He was bucked off in Lewiston, Idaho and suffered a spinal fracture in three cervical vertebrae. Doctors fused his C5-C7 – his C6 was crushed.
The truth is he was fortunate it wasn’t worse. He didn’t return to action until the first of March, and while he struggled at first, he was able to continue to push through. Over the first weekend in April, he scored 90 points, which held on for the first-round victory at the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo. He finished second overall and pocketed more than $13,000.
“Going into San Angelo, it had been pretty rough,” Mosley said. “I had just been getting beat up. I had a bull that everybody was talking about how tough he was, how he hadn’t been ridden. I thought if it didn’t work out here, I might have to find something else to do.
“I’m not one to give up, but it was rough. Then I was 90 on that bull, and I felt like I could do this. Financially it was a blessing. I dang sure needed it for the world standings and my bank account. I had a different feeling that day.”
He found renewed confidence, and he hopes to build upon it.
“There’s no better feeling when you’re in time with one of those rank bulls,” he said. “It’s pretty much effortless.”
Laramie Mosley knows how to ride the rank ones. He’s scored at least 90 points several times in his life, including last May when he won the Guymon (Oklahoma) Pioneer Days Rodeo with a 91-point ride. He did that in front of his rodeo coach, Robert Etbauer, and at a rodeo that was just across the state line from his friends and family in southwest Kansas. It was a hallmark moment.
“That was one of my bucket-list rodeos to win,” he said, a smile seeping through his words. “I’ve always loved Guymon. It was just a cool feeling with all my friend that were still there.
“When I was in college, I said, ‘When I’m 90 here and I win it, I’ll feel really good.’ It sure enough came true.”
Dreams do come true. They might not happen in a specific timeline, but dreamers who have a strong work ethic realize them in a fashion they’ll always remember.