Sibley native living out his rodeo dreams

Published 12:27 am Sunday, February 10, 2019


NATCHEZ — The Dixie National Rodeo is underway in Jackson this week and at least one local calf roper is in the competition.

“I just finished competing in my second round,” Lionel Brown Jr. said Saturday afternoon.

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Brown is a Natchez High graduate and Sibley native.

Saturday’s calf-roping event was Brown’s last day of competing in this year’s Dixie National Rodeo, he said, adding that his first round competition was Thursday, the opening day of the event in Jackson that continues each day through Wednesday at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds in downtown Jackson.

Brown will not, however, know how he places in the event until all of the rounds have been completed on Wednesday, which is the last day of the rodeo.

“I think I did pretty good,” said Brown, 29. “I did the best I could do.”

Brown said he has been calf roping since he was 12 years old and he has competed in numerous rodeo competitions throughout the nation.

“I had a little blue rope in my hand at the age of 3,” Brown said. “I received my first horse at the age of 7 years old. My heroes have always been cowboys.”

As a child, Brown said, his mother, Doris Brown, gave him the option of getting a swimming pool or a rodeo arena.

“I chose the arena,” Brown said. “It kind of led me to where I am now.”

Brown said he received the arena in 2001 when he 12 years old, and it put him in the saddle.

“By the time I was in the sixth grade,” Brown said, “I was tired of just watching everyone rope and ride, so I began to ride.”

Brown said his roping schedule was every day from 6 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. because his mother’s rule was that he had to be at the table doing his homework by 9 p.m.

In high school Brown said he was a member of the band and the football team. He also was active in powerlifting and rodeo.

“I was blessed with a really nice high school rodeo career,” Brown said. “As a freshman, I ended up number 11 for my first full year of rodeo.”

In 2008, Brown graduated from Natchez High School.

“My success in and out of the arena led me to be able to receive a rodeo scholarship to attend McNeese State University,” Brown said.

After he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture science, Brown said he was injured in a horse accident while at the Crossett, Arkansas, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo in 2015.

Brown said the accident happened as he was preparing to rope and another rider lost control of her horse, which collided into him and his horse.

Brown said he took a leap of faith after enduring two major hip surgeries when he decided to train another horse, 3-year-old Smart Rappin-Breezy.

“By the grace of God I was able to have surgery, do the work at therapy and come back even stronger,” Brown said.

In 2018 Brown qualified for the American Quarter Horse Association World Show in the junior tie-down class.

The junior tie-down class is for horses that are younger than 6 years old.

Brown’s horse, Smart Rappin-Breezy, was only 5 when they qualified for the World Show.

“We traveled to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and placed in the top 10 in the world,” Brown said. “I never thought I would be able to train a horse to do anything, let alone rope again but to qualify for the world show after all that was a pretty cool feat.”

“I’ve been blessed with my career, though,” Brown said. “It’s a blessing today to live out the dreams you had as a child.

“It takes dedication, sacrifice, hard work and faith in order to build the confidence needed to perform on a professional level,” Brown said.

Currently, Brown is attending graduate school at Mississippi State University where he is a natural resource extension agent while furthering his education and study of agricultural science.