PUEBLO, Colo. – Two-time World Champion Justin McBride lived and breathed bull riding ever since he was 3 years old all the way up until he retired at 29 years old.
McBride could have likely competed for another five more years on the Built Ford Tough Series, or he possibly could still be competing today if his body would allow him too, but deep down he knew his priorities were beginning to change.
Bull riding used to be an obsession, and it was beginning to no longer be the driving force of his life in 2008.
McBride understood that bull riding had to remain the No. 1 focus of his life if he wanted to be the best.
He was married to his wife, Jill, and the two had a young daughter, Addisen, at home who McBride wanted to be around.
“When I started getting a family and things I wanted all my life, I had a ranch, I won a couple of world titles – it was enough for me,” McBride recalled Friday morning while driving with Addisen, who is now 9 years old, to his 4-year-old son’s preschool show in Brownsboro, Texas. “I didn’t want to go do it anymore because it wasn’t the most important thing to me. That is the deal. To be a competitive World Champion bull rider, it has to be the most important thing there is to you, bar none. It is a pretty selfish life. I would assume that it is like that in any sport. If you want to be the very best, that has to be the No. 1 thing to you.”
So one year after winning his second World Championship, the Elk City, Oklahoma, bull rider called it a career.
“When it wasn’t the number one thing to me anymore, I quit doing it,” McBride said. “I was riding at the best I ever rode up to that point in my life and I quit. I didn’t retire. I didn’t get old. I didn’t get fat. I didn’t get hurt. I just quit riding. I was just done doing it. I had done it all my life. Ever since I was 3 years old. My entire life has been geared to that in every way, shape or form.”
McBride is one of eight PBR legends unretiring for a chance at winning $160,000 in a winner-take-all, one-round showdown during the Built Ford Tough Ring of Honor: Unfinished Business, presented by BlueDEF, on May 30 in Decatur, Texas.
The other seven legends competing during the pay-per-view event are two-time World Champion Chris Shivers, 2012 Ring of Honor inductee Ross Coleman, 2000 World Finals event winner Tater Porter, 1999 PBR Rookie of the Year and PRCA champion Mike White, 1997 World Champion Michael Gaffney, 1994 PBR Rookie of the Year/event mastermind J.W. Hart and 1992 PRCA champion Cody Custer.
McBride has been committed to his family first and foremost ever since he hung up his bull rope for good more than six years ago, minus one failed attempt on Jared Allen’s Air Time at THE AMERICAN in 2014.
“That is the main thing,” McBride said. “When I was riding there wasn’t much time in a day that I wasn’t thinking about bull riding. It was pretty nonstop and I was pretty one-track minded. Now, there is not much part of the day where I am not thinking about what my kids are doing or figuring out something for them to do or working on something that is going to be for them.
“That is the number one priority – my kids.”
Yet with the marvels of modern medicine and the success of fellow veteran bull riders such as Valdiron de Oliveira – the 35-year-old is currently fifth in the world standings – Mike Lee, Guilherme Marchi and Ben Jones, does he ever wonder what could have been?
Despite remaining involved with the sport as a color commentator for CBS Sports Network, does he ever simply miss it?
“No. Heck, no,” McBride replied. “I don’t miss it at all, really.
“I still see those guys – Marchi, Mike and stuff. They are about the last of the Mohicans. I don’t feel like that. I feel like I did everything I wanted to do. I know what I accomplished, and I know what I can do, and I don’t do that anymore. That is there job, not mine. I don’t look back on it, and I am proud of my career and I appreciate every second of it. I am good with it.”
In 15 days, McBride will be tasked with trying to add one more qualified ride to his illustrious resume. During his 10-year career, McBride won a record 32 BFTS events and recorded 355 BFTS qualified rides, according to probullstats.com.
McBride has remained in good shape since retiring and says he will arrive in Decatur at the same weight he was competing at on the BFTS.
He is on horseback almost daily and has stayed in good physical condition by roping calves, many times with PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert.
McBride believes he can still hold his own with the best of the legends for at least one night.
“I know physically, I can still ride,” McBride said. “I don’t know how a whole season would go because I am older, but I don’t ever think about it either. I didn’t have to go on a diet or start getting in shape. (Unfinished Business) really hasn’t been that big of a deal. It hasn’t been as big of a deal to me as I think it is to a lot of people. Just for the simple fact that I feel pretty confident that I can ride those caliber of bulls. When I am around those bulls, I am pretty confident I can still ride them.”
McBride isn’t returning to prove a point to himself or to anyone else.
Instead, the biggest reason he decided to dust off his bull rope – even if it is against his own wishes a tad – is because Hart asked him.
Hart became a mentor for McBride when he first began riding in 1999 and is still one of McBride’s best friends to this day.
You could even say the two are like family.
“J.W. knows if he needs me to go to war with him I will,” McBride said. “He needed guys to do this with him, and he knew if he freaking called me, I would get on a bull with him. That is what it all boils down to. I said it jokingly that the name of this event is so crazy to me because I don’t have any Unfinished Business. I mean that wholeheartedly. I don’t feel like I have anything to prove to myself anymore and it is over for me. I am great with it. I chose for it to be over.
“That is exactly the only reason I am doing it, because J.W. Hart asked me to. That shows where he ranks with me.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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