Leon Coffee has been a fixture at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo for 30 years.

And while an illness threatened to buck him from the circuit, the legendary rodeo clown is back in the saddle, training horses and teaching riders.

Nine months ago, Coffee nearly died after contracting bacterial meningitis.

"The doctors told me that was as close to death as I could get," he said.

Now, they marvel at his recovery, although it has been a long and sometimes scary ride back.

For instance, the doctors told him he would have moments when he felt unplugged.

He found out what that meant while he was driving back from Houston.

"I had to pull over because I couldn't remember where I was going," he said.

The episode only lasted a few minutes, but he said it freaked him out.

Then there was the first time he climbed back in the saddle this past summer.

"(It was) kind of like being on a merry-go-round," he said. "Everything is moving around you, but you're still sitting still. "

Very soon, Coffee will be returning to his first love: clowning around at the rodeo. He said he is ready to entertain at the rodeo for his 31st straight year and he has some new material.

Getting back in the arena is one way Coffee said he can thank those folks who have supported him throughout this ordeal.

"I don't know what I am going to do or how I am going to do it, but I am going to have me a large time," he said.

Images: Leon Coffee and David Sears

Published On: Feb 06 2013 05:12:50 PM CST

KSAT's David Sears spent the day with legendary rodeo clown Leon Coffee.

1 / 16