Sometimes, like money burning a hole in your pocket, you need to tell a story just because you can’t keep it inside of you.
This one involves someone I interviewed in Las Vegas during the National Finals Rodeo for the television show, “Special Cowboy Moments,” that airs weekly on RFD-TV.
Brian Baldwin grew up on the other side of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, closer to Grand Junction than Denver.
He started riding in rodeo at a very young age and, by the time he was in high school, he was competing at a national championship level and looked like he would have a very nice collegiate and professional rodeo career as a bareback bronc rider.
Then one day he and his girlfriend were driving on a mountain road and a drunken driver hit them head on at high speed and sent the motor of his vehicle flying into Baldwin’s lap, breaking pretty much every bone on one side of his body.
The Jaws of Life extracted both he and his girlfriend from the pickup and, despite his injuries, it took four guys to hold him down as they transported him to the hospital where they expected him to spend, if he was lucky, his last few hours.
He was in a coma for a couple of weeks and then somehow suddenly realized that his mother was next to his bed, holding his hand and crying. Oddly enough, his eyes weren’t open and he was still in the coma. But he could see everything that was going on from above his bed.
Of course, we call that an out-of-body experience and it wasn’t long before he realized that he needed to get back into that body and console his mother, and that’s what he decided to do and that was precisely when he popped out of his coma.
Eventually, he became the miracle man in that hospital, a celebrity of sorts because he had survived all of the odds, as did his girlfriend. Later, after four long years of rehabilitation, he got back on his first bareback bronc and won third place at a rodeo, where most of his doctors and nurses were in attendance, cheering him on.
We’d like that story to stop right there with that happy ending but life doesn’t work that way.
Baldwin did complete a nice rodeo career, riding at top levels, and then when it was over, once again found himself in yet another situation that would require a miracle or two.
He had cancer, the type of lymph node cancer that has a 1 percent survival rate. Plus, he was going through a divorce and, because of his illness, lost custody of his 5-year-old daughter.
Once again, he survived and has been cancer free for 10 years. But then he also had to overcome a painkiller medication addiction that had ridden along with the first two miracles.
After listening to his story about all of his trials and tribulations, I asked him if, during it all, he’d ever felt bitter and yelled at God.
“You bet,” he said. “I yelled at God a lot. But in the end, I realized one thing.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“It’s not about me,” he said.