By: Darci Miller
PUEBLO, Colo. – Jess Lockwood had a chat with Mason Lowe back in 2016 during the now two-time World Champion’s rookie season.
Lowe, who’d been on the PBR scene since 2012, but had just had a breakout season in 2015 in which he finished No. 19 in the world, decided to tell the young bull riding phenom exactly what he thought of him.
“Well, you’re a really good bull rider, kid,” Lowe told Lockwood. “You impress me and I look up to you, and the things you’ve done, it’s really cool.”
There may have been some alcohol involved, but those lowered inhibitions didn’t make the moment any less sentimental for Lockwood.
“He kind of had a heart-to-heart with me,” Lockwood said. “To really have him say that, it was pretty cool.”
Lowe passed away after getting stepped on at the Denver Chute Out Velocity Tour event in January of 2019.
Lockwood placed third at that event – en route to eventually winning the 2019 PBR World Championship and becoming the youngest two-time World Champion in PBR history – and Lowe’s death hit him hard.
While the two weren’t especially close, the 22-year-old was jarred by the loss of a friend.
Nearly 10 months later, at the 2019 PBR World Finals, Lockwood’s emotion was palpable as he stood atop the Can-Am Cage at T-Mobile Arena with Mason’s wife, Abbey.
Lockwood had won the inaugural Mason Lowe Award, given to the rider with the highest-marked ride of the regular season, and Abbey was on-site to give out the award.
“He was everyone’s friend,” Lockwood said. “It was tough having that happen. Especially, me at such a young age, I haven’t had stuff like that happen. I haven’t had many deaths in my lifetime yet, especially with friends. So it was rough.
“But I’m happy PBR is doing something to remember him and memorialize him, and I’m honored to get it.”
In addition to the Mason Lowe Award, the PBR also launched the Mason Lowe Memorial Scholarship, which will award qualified students with undergraduate scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000.
Students may apply for, and anyone may donate to, the scholarship at this link until Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. CT.
The bull rider that Lowe had looked up to scored 94 points aboard Heartbreak Kid to earn his namesake award.
Just one week prior, Lockwood had ended Heartbreak Kid’s buckoff streak at 38 consecutive buckoffs, the second-longest such streak in PBR history behind only three-time World Champion Bull Bushwacker’s 42, with a 93.75-point ride.
“He was unridden and had the second-longest buckoff streak in PBR history, so to ride something like that, it’s an honor,” Lockwood said. “Especially from H.D. Page. When they bring bulls, they’re going to buck.”
To say Heartbreak Kid bucked would be an understatement. In Lockwood’s two rides, the bovine athlete was marked 46.25 points and 46 points, respectively.
“I have never felt so good,” Lockwood told PBR.com at the time. “I am 10-foot tall and bulletproof right now. Going into the Finals last event. I don’t know if I can feel any better. I think everyone is going to start calling me crazy because I am going to start going into the championship rounds and choosing that bull because he is my bull.”
In Las Vegas, Lockwood accepted a plaque for his efforts, as well as a more sentimental token.
PBR CEO Sean Gleason and Abbey Lowe had taken leather from the riding boots Mason was wearing the night he died and had it made into cross necklaces like the one Mason used to wear. Every subsequent winner of the Mason Lowe Award will receive a cross.
Lockwood accepted his with emotion in his eyes, putting an arm around Abbey as they honored Mason’s memory.
Mason, however, is never far from anyone’s mind.
“There’s slang words we always use that Mason would always use,” Lockwood said, “and things he used to say and the way he would say them, we still say them and think about him every time we do it.”
Lowe remained top-of-mind well after the award ceremony was cleared away, as his best friend and world No. 3 Chase Outlaw rode a bull named in his honor, Mason’s Missouri Golden, for 87 points later that night.
Lockwood ended the 2019 regular season with his award-winning ride in Nampa, Idaho, back when he was ranked No. 2 in the world and chasing down then-No. 1 Jose Vitor Leme for the world title. He finished third overall in Nampa for his third consecutive Top-3 finish on the premier series in what was to be a historic come-from-behind title push.
After Round 2 of the PBR World Finals – where he would go 5-for-6 with four 90-point rides – Lockwood was able to reflect on the significance of receiving such an award in the midst of everything else.
“It’s kind of cool,” Lockwood said. “It makes you step back and think about something else other than the world title race.”
Lockwood received the award during a break in Round 3. He would go on to ride Biker Bob for 92 points – and the title race was back to the forefront.
But even with his second World Championship buckle on his belt, Lockwood cherishes the award he gets to wear around his neck.
“To put those two awards together, the best ride and the Mason Lowe award, it’s…” Lockwood pauses before chuckling, almost in disbelief. “It’s kind of a speechless type thing.”
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