Professional bull rider chasing dreams through family tradition - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Professional bull rider chasing dreams through family tradition

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LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -- An Arkansan is taking the ride of his life on the professional bull riding circuit, fighting back through an array of injuries and holding on tight to family values.

Underneath the cowboy hat and chaps is a man pursuing his dreams one bull at a time while living out a family tradition.

El Dorado native Reese Cates was the 2008 PBR Rookie of the Year in professional bull riding, and six years later he's still just one of 35 guys visiting packed arenas each weekend on PBR's Built Ford Tough Series.

Cates, a four-time PBR World Finals qualifier, was born into bull riding and every time that chute opens his family, past and present, are right there with him.

Bull riding certainly isn't a sport for everyone; you have to be tough as nails, and mentally prepared for physical setbacks. Maybe that's what makes Cates seem like the perfect fit for the sport.

"I got stepped on as I was practicing. I broke three ribs, punctured and collapsed my lung. I was in the hospital for a little over two weeks," Cates said about an injury-prone 2013 season.

"As I healed up from that I came back, and a week after starting back riding I got stepped on and dislocated my shoulder."

It was those series of injuries that kept Cates from competing much in PBR for 2013. Now the 25-year-old is back to working harder than ever, implementing some training strategies not typically associated with staying on a bull for eight seconds.

"Whenever I'm at home throughout the week I spend four to five days in the gym, you know, trying to get my body ready back flexible. I do yoga, I've been training MMA with a gym that's right down the road from my house."

From a young age Cates kept his off hand in the air while learning the trade and technique of the sport from the lineage right in front of him.

"He really paved the way for me. My dad made the college national finals, made the high school national finals. You know growing up everyone always told me, ‘well you know if you're half the bull rider your dad was you'll be really successful.'"

Just like in his profession, life sent the horns of a bull at Cates at a young age when his riding mentor and biggest fan, his father Paul Cates, died during a chuck wagon racing accident.

"You know whenever my dad passed away I was only nine years old. I had a little brother who was only one and my mom, being a single mother, it made me grow up a lot," he continued.

With Cates being a third-generation bull rider, the cowboy toughness dwells deep within on each ride. In this sport he knows being bucked off is inevitable, but it's how you dust yourself off that determines your future success.

"That's something that I focus on, even nowadays, is whenever I'm done, whenever I'm upset, whenever I feel like I'm not having the success that I want I think what my family would expect out of me and that's nothing but my best."

Reese has already competed at Madison Square Garden this season, and will be in action at Cowboy Stadium in just about a week and a half.

So far, he's posted two Top 10 and a Top Five finish in only seven events this season.

His ultimate goal is to be competing at the PBR World Finals for the $1 million prize in Las Vegas as the top rider at the end of the season.