LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Friends and family gathered in Duncan on Wednesday to celebrate the life of 20-year-old Rowdy Swanson.
The Oklahoma State bull rider was killed last week at a rodeo in Texas after he was thrown from a bull.
Rowdy’s parents, Jarrel & Venessa Swanson, spoke with 7News about their son and what happened in his final moments.
“The last thing I seen him do, besides get on that bull, was kneel down by that bucking shoot, and say a prayer,” Rowdy’s brother Roper said.
There was not an empty seat at New Hope Baptist Church West as hundreds gathered to remember Rowdy Swanson.
“Toughest kid in the world. He was kind hearted and respectful, but the toughest kid in the world,” Jarrel said.
The Swansons believe their son knew something like this would happen as they reflected back on some of his final thoughts.
“Two weeks before the accident, he told his girlfriend and brother, ‘If I die riding bulls, I die happy,’” Jarrel said.
Rowdy was also a man of faith, always with a cross around his neck, except the night of September 17th in Mineral Wells, Texas.
“He tells his brother, I don’t have my cross and I don’t get on bulls without a cross around my neck,” Jarrel said.
The next day the cross was found sitting on Rowdy’s coffee table.
But perhaps the more chilling last words from the young bull rider were this:
“He turned around and said ‘There’s Red Rock’ - the bull that killed Lane Frost.”
Rowdy’s father reminded friends and family of what his son would be saying, looking down from heaven.
“He’s probably sitting next to the Father, what are y’all doing, crying over me? I’m in a better place, don’t cry for me,” Jarrel said.
Rowdy’s father, also shared with the church that his sons death ended up leading a man to Christ, he said without this tragedy, it may not have happened.
The family says they’ll continue to honor their boy and keep his memory alive.
“We love him and we miss him. We’ve done our job and he was growing into a great man,” Venessa said.
We’re told many people are creating scholarships in Rowdy’s name, and OSU’s Rodeo Team is starting an endowment for Rowdy.