COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Whenever Mike White is bucking bulls at his De Kalb, Texas, ranch, his 3-year-old son, Morgan, will sit a tad bit away on the back of the bucking chutes.
Morgan will then ask, “Is this one mine? Is this one mine?”
If the little boy doesn’t get what he wishes after a few moments, you can bet he is going to get ready to throw a little tantrum.
“For the last six months, every time we buck bulls here, if we do not run one in for him, he gets pissed about it,” Mike said before laughing. “He has to ride. There are no ifs, ands or buts.”
The same came be said about the 38-year-old and 1999 PBR Rookie of the Year and PRCA champion.
In 29 days, Mike will have to climb aboard one more bull after accepting J.W. Hart’s challenge to unretire for one day, and take part in a winner-take-all, $160,000 one-round bull riding at the Built Ford Tough Ring of Honor: Unfinished Business.
All of the action from the May 30 BlueDEF Velocity Tour event in Decatur, Texas, will be available exclusively on pay-per-view.
The Lake Charles, Louisiana, native will be squaring off against Hart, two-time World Champions Justin McBride and Chris Shivers, 2012 Ring of Honor inductee Ross Coleman, 2000 World Finals event winner Tater Porter, 1997 World Champion Michael Gaffney and 1992 PRCA champion Cody Custer.
Mike’s 3-year-old son may be a little more excited than his father.
“You know. I am wondering why in the hell I even agreed to do it,” Mike said Friday morning. “To tell you the truth, I could care less to do it. I think it dang sure has to be the money.”
Despite the craziness of coming out of retirement for one more chance at making the 8-second mark, there will be a lot of special moments that have White excited for May 30 to roll around.
First, Morgan will be one of 22 friends and family members expected to make the trip to Decatur to watch Mike compete.
White’s other son, Logan, who has competed at PBR events during mini-bull ridings, will be one of those family members in attendance.
The 11-year-old and White’s older brother, Pat, are expected to be on the back of the chutes helping Mike prepare for his chance at defeating his fellow legends.
“My son (Logan) is more excited than I am about it,” Mike said. “Well, let me re-phrase that. I know dang sure he is more excited about it than I am.”
White remembered a moment earlier this year when the two were in Fort Worth, Texas, for an ABBI event and around 2 a.m.
Mike could hear his son was still awake and he rolled out of bed to see his son watching YouTube videos of two-time PRCA champion and 2010 PBR Ring of Honor inductee Jim Sharp.
“I guess you could say my boy has an eye for some of the greats ever,” White said. “I never told him whatsoever in my lifetime that I used to watch videos of Jim Sharp because I thought Jim was one of the greatest ever at controlling your free arm and having the correct style to ride bulls. That is who I used to watch videos of and there is my son watching videos of Jim Sharp. He has an eye to watch the best there is out there about how to ride bulls correctly. I thought that was pretty neat.”
White qualified for the World Finals eight times and won 12 events in his 12-year career. He recorded 67 Top-10 event finishes, 42 of which he placed in the Top 5, and earned in over $1.4 million in the PBR.
In 2002, he finished fourth in the PBR world standings, and a year later, in 2003, he has ranked third in the world.
Logan will get a chance to hopefully see his dad make one more memorable ride in his career in Decatur, and White has had his fair share of them.
There was the moment he rode Troubadour for 95.75 points – one of the Top 11 rides in PBR history – in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2008, and then there is the time that he rode Trick or Treat for 93 points to win the 1999 California Salinas Rodeo in Salinas, California.
“Both of them stand out very well in my head,” White said. “Trick or Treat was a much harder bull to ride than Troubadour. I had to work my ass off to ride both of them, but Trick or Treat was so much harder to ride.”
There is also a sentimental ride that White, who has so far only attempted one practice bull in the last month and a half, still holds close to his heart when he looks back at his career.
White’s 93.5-point ride on Slick Willy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 2003 came at one of the few events that Pat made it out to.
In fact, Pat pulled his rope for that ride.
“My older brother, Pat, has been my mentor,” Mike said. “He has taught me how to ride bulls and taught me just about everything in life. He has been there with me day-in and day-out and taught me everything I know today about bulls, bull riding and fighting bulls. He has been there every step I’ve made and he is going to come to the event.”
Pat was also there to pick his younger brother up whenever he was down or frustrated during his bull riding career.
Mike recalled a phone call he received from his brother at the 1998 National Finals Rodeo when he was ticked off that he had bucked off five bulls in a row.
“I was about to jump out a freaking window of the hotel,” Mike said. “I was so sick and down on myself. He called me and said, ‘If you don’t stay on your bull tomorrow, we will get you a flight home and you are going to get on some practice bulls and get a flight back.’
“I was like, ‘Son of a buck.’”
The next morning, Mike met up with bullfighter Joe Baumgartner and got on three practice bulls owned by Don Kish.
“It was just what I needed,” Mike said. “It was a confidence builder and helped me forget about all the other B.S. I think I came back the next night and won second or third in that round.”
A year later, White won the NFR bull riding average title and the 1999 PRCA title.
Mike is thrilled to know his brother is going to be making it to Decatur for Unfinished Business, and Mike is making it a point to make sure his brother helps pull his rope with Logan. It is the same bull rope he used in his final year of competition (2010) on the Built Ford Tough Series.
“I am going to have him there also pulling my rope,” White said. “It is very exciting for that to also happen for me. My brother is a workaholic and doesn’t take time to go do things for himself. It means a lot for him to be there.”
Especially, because this time White knows this is the final bull ride of his career.
“It dang sure is going to be my last ride,” he concluded.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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