HOUSTON — Leon Coffee has been one of the most recognizable faces of RodeoHouston for the last three decades. In honor of his 30th anniversary, the legendary barrelman, who stares down bulls for a living, has been named grand marshal of the Downtown Rodeo Parade.
Coffee, the rockstar of rodeo clowns, walks a fine line each night between danger and delight. He's the guy in the barrel who tries to distract the angry bull after a rider is bucked off.
He's had more than his share of close calls and broken bones, but Coffee loves his job.
"I cherish it. I cherish the days that I have left in my career," the native Texan told us back in 2013.
Coffee is a celebrity in the rodeo world, a ProRodeo Hall of Fame inductee and the PRCA Clown of the Year in 1983.
“Leon Coffee is an icon and fan-favorite of the Rodeo, with 2023 being his 30th anniversary as our barrelman and friend, it makes him the perfect candidate to lead our parade as Grand Marshal,” said Chris Boleman, Rodeo president and CEO.
The Rodeo Parade is Saturday, Feb. 25, at 10 a.m.
Leon Coffee's career
Luke Leon Coffee grew up around horses and rodeo. He competed in bull riding, bareback riding, steer wrestling and calf roping.
After high school, the Texas cowboy served in the U.S. Army for three years before starting his career as a bullfighter.
"His signature act of dancing in front of an angry bull earned him the nicknames “Disco Bullfighter” and “Boogie Man," according to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Coffee has worked on the movie sets of "8 Seconds," "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" and "Jericho."
He visits children’s hospitals and runs a small ranch in his off time.
After nearly dying of meningitis in 2013, Coffee reflected on his career. He knows he can't do this forever, but he refuses to say when he'll retire. It's not his pride, but his faith.
"I'm going to tell you like this, I've never wanted to step down and quit, because I feel like God gave me the ability to do two things, and that's make people happy and help people out," Leon told us.
As long as he can move, Leon Coffee will be working a rodeo and entertaining a crowd. And that's no bull!