By: Justin Felisko
March 04, 2017
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Cody Rodeo Tyler was like most 11 year olds when he was snooping around his family’s home in Perry, Oklahoma, for Christmas gifts in 2005.
What Tyler found, though, was not a Christmas gift, but instead a future career.
Tyler was rummaging through pairs of shoes and luggage when he found a dusty, old gear bag at the bottom, back-corner of his parents’ bedroom closet.
The curious little boy tugged at the bag until he finally was able to get it out of the closet to see what was inside. Tyler then opened the bag and inside was all of his dad’s old bull riding gear.
“Honestly, my dad didn’t even want us to do it. I found his gear bag when I was 11 years old and that was when I started to really wanting to try it,” Tyler said. “I started asking about it and it probably took him a year before he even let me on something.”
Tyler eventually got on his first steer and got wrecked out instantly.
He jumped up with a big smile on his face, and 11 years later he is riding at the highest level of professional bull riding.
“He knew pretty soon off,” said Tyler, who added that he isn’t sure why his parents chose his middle name to be Rodeo. “I just found that bag and got into it like an OCD little kid.”
Steven Tyler had competed at amateur bull ridings and in the International Professional Rodeo Association for a few years before wanting to be home more with his kids.
Cody used to travel with his dad’s bag until the zipper broke a few years ago. Nowadays, Steven’s gear is hanging on the wall of Cody’s bedroom at their new farm in Guthrie, Oklahoma.
He heads into this weekend’s Jacksonville Invitational ranked 23rd in the world standings after a career-best 2-for-4, fourth-place performance at the Bass Pro Chute Out, presented by Cooper Tires, in St. Louis.
The 22-year-old rode Bullrito for a career-high 87.25 points and Ante Up for 84.75 points to earn 137.5 points toward the world standings and solidify himself a spot on the Built Ford Tough Series for the foreseeable future.
St. Louis was the fourth event of his career and he spent the weekend receiving advice from fellow Okie Ryan Dirteater.
“He has given me a lot of advice,” Tyler said. “He helped me out a lot last week. He told me to calm down and just do what I do best. He helped me out quite a bit.”
Tyler made his season-debut in Kansas City, Missouri, three weeks ago after making one appearance at the 2015 Last Cowboy Standing event in Las Vegas.
“Man, it is a big ole, freaking weight off my shoulders,” Tyler said. “I don’t feel like I have to do good this weekend to go next weekend. At the Iron Cowboy, I was like I have to do good or I won’t be here. Luckily I got into St. Louis as an alternate and was able to get some points there and finish good.”
Tyler has drawn Off the Tracks (7-1, BFTS) for Round 1 on Saturday night. Fans can catch all of the action from Round 1 exclusively on PBR LIVE beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.
The Rookie of the Year contender practiced his craft at the beginning of the year on the PBR’s Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour.
Tyler won the first event of the 2017 calendar year in Oakland, California, and is 9-for-19 at the Velocity level.
“Man, it has been awesome,” Tyler said. “I couldn’t think of anything else I would want to do. It has been pretty great to me so far.”
It was actually at the Velocity Tour level where Tyler’s first full PBR season was cut short.
Less than two months after making his BFTS debut at Last Cowboy Standing, Tyler got stepped on by Mortimer in Salinas, California, and wound up getting season-ending left shoulder surgery.
“Basically, a bull stepped on the top of my shoulder and just pressed it completely the other way,” Tyler recalled. “I flew to Thief River Falls and got on two more bulls and it was hardly worth it. I knew something was wrong. I went home and went to the doctor. I was out the rest of that year. I didn’t come back until 2016.”
Tyler finished 2016 85th in the world standings and believes he is finally reaching the next notch of his career.
Officially seeded on the BFTS, Tyler now has his energy focused on qualifying for his first Built Ford Tough World Finals.
“I have a lot of goals,” Tyler said. “I want to ride a higher percentage of my bulls this year and stay injury free. I have been battling a bunch of little injuries and that has kept me away from a lot. I finally feel good after my shoulder surgery in 2015. That held me back for a while.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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