Cowboy cutie! Bonner Bolton made a memorable first impression during his Dancing With the Stars season 24 debut on Monday, March 20, and thanks to his charming good looks and his obvious chemistry with partner Sharna Burgess, people were still talking about him the next day. Watch the video above to find out six things you didn’t know about the 29-year-old.
The professional bull rider was raised on a ranch in West Texas and started riding bulls at age 10. His father, Toya Bolton, was a rodeo cowboy for two decades, so bull riding was in his blood. “My dad rode for 20 years and when I was 4 years old, he retired from it, so I got to watch him when I was younger,” he told Us Weekly last year. “I just fell in love with it since then, watching my dad — he was always my hero — and then I just thought it was awesome how one small man could face these giants out there in the arena and dominate that challenge.”
The Texas hunk won his first world title and golden buckle at age 20. After overcoming several injuries throughout his career, he suffered his most life-changing, near-death experience last year at the Chicago Invitational in January 2016. Bolton had successfully reached eight seconds on the bull (the rider must last that long in order to receive a score), but when he tried to dismount, he was propelled headfirst into the ground.
“I landed on my head, and unfortunately I was conscious the whole time,” he told Us Weekly. He broke his C2 vertebra and was paralyzed from the neck down for hours. He wasn’t sure that he would ever walk again, but sensation gradually returned to his body.
However, the injury likely put an end to his cowboy career. “No sane doctor is going to let someone with the hardware that’s in my neck get on a bull,” he told PBR in May 2016. “It’s hard to contemplate the prospect of maybe never again doing what I love so much.”
Find out more about Bolton, including his Hollywood-stunt-double stint, in the video above!