JJ Hampton’s Love for Roping Stems from a Young Age and Horse Named Shorty

JJ Hampton is one of the most decorated athletes in rodeo history with 18 World Titles and a Hall of Fame plaque in the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Hampton is known for her killer instinct and ability to show up in the biggest moments.

Her career, however, nearly never happened.

“When I was 4-years-old old I drowned in the bathtub. Me and my sister were taking a bath, my mom had gone in the kitchen and my sister had gotten out, and when they came back I was black and blue.”

Hampton looks back on that as her first sign from God that he had greater plans for her.

It may look easy for Hampton now, but when she was young, she wasn’t necessarily a natural.

“It was such a struggle, I could ride and I ran barrels, but staying on and being in control of your rope is a whole different thing when you put that element in there. I would fall off, I would ride, the horse would dump me. It was almost like, I mean, I didn’t like it.”

The frustrations were mounting for a young Hampton, but one horse changed all of that.

“My mom and dad found me a horse named Shorty. Shorty didn’t stop and she was ugly as can be, but when I got Shorty I started catching.”

After that moment, and with a lot of practice, Hampton got better and better.

It is clear when talking to Hampton that her parents played a massive part in her life.

“My mom never roped, she had nothing to do with rodeo, but she was a winner at life. She was a high school athlete and just a hard worker and always found a way to get us to a rodeo and make it happen. I got it from my mom.”

It isn’t always the prettiest with Hampton, but that is not something she has ever concerned herself with.

“I learned how to win, I didn’t learn the technique of roping pretty, and all of that I learned how to win.”

Hampton had success through high school and college, but once she obtained her criminal justice degree she had her sights set on becoming a lawyer. Hampton sold her horses and bought a car, she took a break from roping, but a friend convinced her to enter a couple of amateur rodeos.

That’s all it took for Hampton to get back into roping.

“I love this sport and I love everything about it. We went back and we got another truck and trailer, I got some horses together and I started amateur rodeoing. It set a path of here I am today.”

There is no question, if not for Hampton, breakaway roping would not be what it is today.

“I took breakaway to another step because when I made a good run back then they couldn’t beat me. I won first and I knew I won first. These girls have stepped up their game and gotten faster because no one threw it like I did.”