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All in the family: Young rodeo stars follow in parents’ footsteps

By Racey Burden | Published Wednesday, December 6, 2017
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Taking After Mom and Dad

TAKING AFTER MOM AND DAD – Twins Loralai and Noah Lee, the children of PBR world champion Mike Lee and barrel racer Jamie Lee, are following in mom and dad’s footsteps in the rodeo world. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

For the Lee twins, rodeo is in their blood.

Their father, Mike Lee, is a former PBR world champion bull rider, and their mother, Jamie Lee, used to barrel race, so it only makes sense that their kids would follow in their footsteps. Noah and Loralai, 9, only started riding competitively in the past year, but already both of the kids have amassed enough buckles, trophies and novelty checks to decorate their mom’s living room.

Noah competes in the Miniature Bull Riding association, and won six buckles, a set of spurs and nearly $2,000 during the MBR finals in Las Vegas in November. He was the average and reserve world champion. Loralai recently won the peewee barrel racing buckle from the National Barrel Horse Association at a Granbury rodeo and a pole bending buckle in Bonham.

The kids grew up around horses – Loralai said she’s been riding since she was “zero” – and Noah rode bulls with his dad and at clinics for fun. The twins knew even before they started winning buckles that rodeo was in their future.

“They both kind of grew up in the rodeo world,” Jamie said. “Noah would always ask me if I would come see him in the PBR finals. Other kids get toys for Christmas. They asked for boots.”

Rodeo Superstars

RODEO SUPERSTARS – Loralai and Noah Lee just started competing in rodeos this year, and already the twins have brought home a large load of buckles. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Last year Jamie gave Noah the option of playing baseball or riding bulls. He didn’t even have to think about his answer.

A few months later Loralai got her first barrel horse, a mare named Swiffer, and then both twins were spending their weekends on the rodeo circuit.

They’ve come a long way in a short time, quickly learning the skills they need for their events.

“Loralai went from wearing velcro to winning,” Jamie said. “Noah couldn’t even tie the rope on the fence at first.”

The twins have won so many buckles between them they have a hard time picking their favorites. Noah has a few he appreciates the most, including his reserve world champion buckle and the spurs he won at the MBR finals, but Loralai couldn’t pick a favorite prize.

“My dog and my horse are my treasures,” she said. “All my buckles are great, but they’re my reward.”

And Noah enjoys making friends on the rodeo circuit just as much as he enjoys winning. In Las Vegas, the Lee twins ran around in a posse of fellow riders their age when Noah wasn’t competing or they weren’t signing autographs at a booth with their dad.

When Noah rode in the finals, he was competing in the same arena his dad rode in many times. Of course, he was more focused on his own form at the time.

“You try not to buck off and stay in the middle and not move,” he said of bull riding. “If you’re in the middle the whole time, you get a higher score.”

Noah likes a challenge – his favorite bull, Hitman, was the one he considered the best because he was the only peewee bull to turn back, a more difficult move to ride.

Both kids plan to continue challenging themselves (and putting prize money into college funds Jamie has set up). Noah wants to be a professional bull rider like his dad, and Loralai wants to become a trick rider. They love rodeo, even though sometimes their friends at school don’t understand why they’re spending all their free time in the arena or at the barn.

“That’s just our lifestyle,” Loralai said. “There’s just dogs and horses.”

Then she added, as a more personal aside, “There’s no room for nasty boys.”

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