Leo Camarillo is one of the fiercest competitors the cowboy sport has ever seen. Though he’s been known as a roping revolutionary, The Lion is also a World Champion All-Around Cowboy and rare Timed Event Champion of the World. We just celebrated the one-year anniversary of Leo’s Nov. 29, 2019, five-way heart bypass surgery, and the fact that once he healed, he was able to get back to his lifelong passion and heel. Now, COVID-19 has him in the same Arizona hospital where they helped his huge Hall of Fame heart.
I was blessed to share long-distance morning coffee today with my forever family friend, and am thrilled to report that we have not yet heard The Lion’s last roar.
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“I’m in the same hospital here in Chandler where I had my heart surgery,” Leo said. “I had an aggravating cough that wouldn’t stop, and they say it’s from a combination of pneumonia and COVID. They’re keeping pretty good tabs on me, and I’m hoping to get to go home later today or maybe tomorrow. This virus has so many people down that, if you’re able to walk, they want you out of here.”
The Lion was well enough to wonder all about how the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo is faring in Texas. He’s been tuning in nightly to the Cowboy Channel from his hospital bed.
“I thought the team roping was the best event the first night,” Leo said. “They utilized more of that bigger arena, and scored it accordingly. They’re roping fresher-type steers that show these guys are the best of the best. These cattle are big and they run, so if a guy keeps reaching, he’s most likely going to struggle.
“I wish I could grab some of these guys by the shoulders, sit them down and say, ‘You’re better than this. You don’t miss one at home. Just do it.’ We lost 10 teams in the average pretty fast. Really? The five teams that are left just need to buckle up. They can win big money without ever letting their hair down. Just go execute. Stop the clock. Two horns and two feet will make for a very Merry Christmas.”