Thursday, June 14, 2018

The First Family of Rodeo

...His name is Trevor Brazile. He is a modest man of 41, a prodigy in autumn, with boyish dimples, an eroding jawline, the compact physique of a hockey player, 5-foot-10 in his roomy, square-toed cowboy boots. Raised on a feedlot in the dusty Texas Panhandle, he roped his first calf from horseback at age 3; at age 5 he refused to return to the second day of kindergarten unless his parents installed his roping dummy on the school playground. Over the past two decades, Brazile has won more pro-rodeo championships, 23, than any other cowboy in history...From Brazile’s practice pen, you can look over yonder on the hill, behind the lake, and see Roy Cooper’s 20-acre spread, with its own barn and practice pen. Born to a famous rodeo family, Roy Cooper was one of the first great modern rodeo champions. He was known as “Super Looper.” He could rope left-handed or right. He sometimes flew to competitions and borrowed an unfamiliar horse. Over the course of his career Cooper qualified for the NFR 20 times. He won eight world championships...From the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, Roy Cooper, a national high school and college champion and PRCA rookie of the year, was the most recognized figure in professional rodeo. “At his prime, he had no competition,” says Joe Beaver, an eight-time NFR champion roper and one of Roy’s many traveling partners, who is now a TV commentator. “He was so consistent. He was so fast and so darn good. He rarely made any mistakes. What he could do in the arena was unreal. He’s probably the greatest roper that has ever been.” During the cocaine-fueled ’80s and ’90s, the Super Looper also became well-known for his appetite for epic spending and partying, turning up everywhere with his best friend, the country musician George Strait. There are a million stories. Roy loves to tell them. In one, the pilot of a private jet puts the plane on autopilot for two hours so he can participate in a rousing game of strip poker at 30,000 feet with Roy and friends...Another of Roy’s rodeo buddies was a part-time competitor named Jimmy Brazile. He was one of the few left-handers around—given the setup at most rodeo arenas, it was a handicap. Jimmy lived on a feedlot with his wife and young son, Trevor, in the Texas Panhandle town of Gruver.

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