LAS VEGAS – Gilbert Carrillo glanced down at his left hand and paused for a moment.
Everything around him was swirling as family, friends and fans all wanted to pose for a photo with him and his brother, Adam, following the 2014 Heroes & Legends ceremony on Tuesday night.
Gilbert eventually looked back up and toward his brother.
“It is unreal,” Gilbert said. “Holding this ring right here, and holding this ring for the Ring of Honor, there are no words that I can use to express how I feel. It is just unreal.”
On Tuesday night, the Carrillo brothers and Bobby Berger were officially inducted as the 39th, 40th and 41st inductees to the PBR’s prestigious Ring of Honor.
There was no other way that the Carrillo brothers would have wanted to script it. The identical twins got on their first bulls together at 13 years old and on Tuesday night the 42-year-old’s shared the spotlight to end the celebration at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa. Bones (Brand of Honor), Stacey Custer (Sharon Shoulders Award) and David Allen (Jim Shoulders Lifetime Acheivement Award) were also honored in the hour and a half long event that was held in the Grand Ballroom.
“It feels really awesome,” Adam said. “I can’t explain exactly how it feels other than it is a really, really high honor to be a part of this group back in the 90s when we agreed to form the PBR. Time has just flown by so quick.
“All of those years of building the cake and guess what, we finally got to put the icing on the cake.”
Most importantly, they were symbolic and iconic for their brotherhood and relationship, which was the focal point of introductions given by nine-time World Champion and fellow Ring of Honor inductee Ty Murray and the brothers’ former rodeo coach at Odessa College Jim Watkins.
Murray, who introduced Adam into the Ring of Honor, joked about the time the brothers spent living with him in Stephenville, Texas, and he purchased bunk beds for the duo to sleep in. Murray went to check on the two brothers and they both popped their heads up in unison.
“At the same time they said, ‘Hi Ty! We like our beds!’
“We had a lot of fun, but these guys really were inspiring,” Murray continued after laughing. “They were little, bitty guys that bared down and made some of the greatest rides that I had ever seen. It is hard to talk about one of them without talking about both of them.”
During his introduction for Gilbert, Watkins continued describing the two-for-one deal that the Carrillo brothers brought to the table.
“Adam and Gilbert were both one guy – two guys thrown into one. They never talked in the singular tense about themselves. It was always us. They didn’t say Gilbert and I. They would say me and Gilbert or me and Adam. They never talked about just themselves. I always thought that was very impressive.
“These guys lived, breath, ate, slept bull riding.”
None of Tuesday’s inductees or honorees were ones to boast of their accomplishments in the arena or outside of it. All remained humble and brief during their respective speeches, leaving much of the praise to come from those introducing them to the stage.
Berger was blindsided when he got the call this year to be inducted. Quite frankly, he thought he was too old.
“This is awesome, really great,” Berger said following the ceremony. “I kind of felt like my recognition in rodeo was over. I didn’t expect this because a lot of people forgot about my bull riding career because I won the world in bronc riding kind of a little later. I competed in three rough stock events and I didn’t just specialize in bull riding.”
Still, fellow Ring of Honor inductee Jerome Robinson, who gave a brief introduction before Berger’s sister Marlene Gleason welcomed her brother to the stage, said Berger may just have been a better bull rider than bronc rider.
“He was the ultimate competitor and went to the NFR in bull riding eight times and I don’t think he ever received the recognition that he probably should of because he was such a good bronc rider,” Robinson said. “I think everybody thought that he was such a great bronc rider that he couldn’t be great in two events, but I am not so sure bronc riding wasn’t his second (best) event.”
There were a variety of former bull riders, heroes and legends in attendance on Tuesday night including Justin McBride, Jerome Davis, Adriano Moraes, Michael Gaffney, Ross Coleman, Cody Custer, Larry Mahan, David Fournier, Jim Sharp and Wacey Cathey to name a few.
Custer’s wife, Stacey, was the fourth woman to receive the Sharon Shoulders award in the history of the PBR.
“She is the biggest part of anything that I have ever done since we met in 1990 and the 25 years we have been together,” he said.
Stacey said, “Honestly, I just don’t even feel qualified. I am a wife, a mother and I do what I do because I love my husband and I love my kids. I really appreciate this, especially something this special in honor of Sharon. She is just a wonderful, wonderful lady that I really love and truly look up to.”
McBride was bucked off twice by two-time World Champion Bull Bones, this year’s Brand of Honor recipient.
Lambert referenced Bones greatness by reminding those in attendance that in 2010 the veteran bull shocked the PBR by winning his second World Champion Bull title by defeating the favorite that year – a young and talented ABBI bull by the name of Bushwacker.
Longtime stock contractor Tom Teague brought a good laugh to the crowd during his acceptance speech on behalf of his bull, comparing the bucking bull business to a dating scene.
“They are kind of like when I was dating,” Teague said. “If you go with them good looking women, they cost you a lot of money, but you also have a lot of fun. The same is true with bulls. I have really had more fun doing this than anything I have ever done. It has been a wonderful time.”
The Heroes & Legends celebration is a night to pay homage and respect to those that have impacted the sport of professional bull riding and the PBR. It is also a reminder of just how much things continue to grow since 20 bull riders decided to invest $1,000 dollars to form the organization 21 years ago.
Therefore, while Murray, Robinson, Lambert and others shared stories of some of bull riding’s historic greats, there were a slew of current bull riders in the back of the room listening with a keen ear.
Some of the Top 35 riders in attendance included reigning World Champion J.B. Mauney, No. 1 ranked bull rider in the world Joao Ricardo Vieira, 2009 Rookie of the Year Cody Nance, 2004 World Champion Mike Lee, J.W. Harris, Josh Faircloth, Nathan Schaper, Ty Pozzobon and Zane Lambert.
In a telling conclusion of his speech, David Allen, the recipient of this year’s Jim Shoulder’s Lifetime Acheivement award, addressed the riders currently in the PBR with an important message.
“You young guys who are riding today, that video with Jim (Shoulders) said it all,” Allen said. “He is the reason we are here now and I can’t emphasize enough to you how important it is that you look back and know the history of what this came from so that you know where you are going with it because it is in your hands now and it is a great product.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko.
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