In January 2016, Bonner Bolton was participating in a bull-riding competition at Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois when something went terribly wrong. Upon dismount, Bolton landed on his head after an 86.75-point ride on Cowboy Up. He become temporarily paralyzed and underwent surgery to help him recover. The bull named Cowboy Up was actually the same bull that bull rider Sean Willingham also broke his neck on while riding, according to PBR. In the above Instagram video that Bolton posted after the injury, you can watch as Bolton falls and breaks his neck. As a caption, Bolton reached out to thank his fans and loved ones, saying:
Praising God for the angels in my life and his hand that is guided me to this moment in my life and seen me through when I thought my last moments here on on earth were Sunday at PBR Chicago…. With a broken neck C2 fracture in my vertebrae I was blessed to have the best doctors working on me this week and the best team of nurses anyone could ask for it is been nothing but a life changer for the best for me and I know only good things will come from this I love you all and thank you all for those who are praying for me when I left the arena Sunday I was paralyzed from the neck down the same injury as Christopher Reeves who played superman that ended up in a wheelchair. I am proud to say that my God performed a miracle and I am able to move my whole entire body now and the doctor say I will be able to ride again as soon as this year I am truly blessed forever. #blessedforever
In an interview with the New York Post, Bolton talked about the moment he knew he broke his neck, explaining:
As soon as I hit the ground I knew what happened. [The fall] didn’t knock me out. I was totally conscious … Suddenly what’s important in life becomes very clear. No. 1, it’s the people you love. I could only think about wrapping my arms around them and hoping I would get the chance. When I left the arena [that] Sunday, I was paralyzed from the neck down — the same injury as Christopher Reeve, who played Superman, that ended up in a wheelchair.
As Bolton recovered, he was excited, thinking that one day he could get back on the bull. Unfortunately, one of his doctors had bad news. Bolton revealed that:
Basically he said, ‘The way they put the metal in your neck, it’s right next to your main artery. If you break something against your third vertebra, you’re dead or paralyzed. I will never release you to ride.’
Recently, Bolton posted a message on Instagram about wanting to tell his story via his participation on the reality competition show Dancing With the Stars. Bolton explained:
For all of those who might wonder or be confused over why I am doing what I am these days this is for you. #1 I came on dancing with the stars not to win money or become a city slicker, but because they said they wanted to tell my story @dancingabc @sharnaburgess. I cannot tell them how much I appreciate this opportunity words are not enough. I want to tell my story so that others might find hope for them selves and a reason to keep looking up when shit happens in life. I’m not doing this to be rich or famous or to become part of a showmance with Sharna. Life didn’t leave me with a lot of options after breaking my neck and my life almost ended last year. Every since that day I’ve wanted to dance. People say what you want good or bad it doesn’t redirect my purpose or reasons for being here. I also am doing this because it sounded fun and that’s want I want it to be. I don’t give a damn if I win or lose I’m not a dancer. I will let no one kill my joy or determine my destiny. Never have, never will. I have nothing to prove. This is not an explanation this is a statement.
Bolton’s broken neck wasn’t the only time that he’s sustained injuries while riding a bull. Have a look at the below video from 2015, with Bolton getting hit in the face.
For Bolton’s Most Memorable Year performance on Dancing With the Stars, he is rumored to be talking about the injury that changed his life. See more photos of Bolton’s injury and recovery via the below link:
And, for information on his rumored relationship with DWTS pro partner Sharna Burgess: