Valley family takes the sport of bull riding to extremes

- A few months ago, we introduced you to a young bull rider out of San Tan Valley.

At just 16-years-old, Hunter Kelly is on track to become a world champion, just like his father. 

Bull riding isn't for the faint of heart. Just ask Frank Kelly, a genuine cowboy from his hat to his big 'ole belt buckle. Frank rode a bull in the opening of the 1972 Steve McQueen film, "Junior Bonner."

But when he watches his 16-year-old son Hunter take on a bull, his hard exterior starts to soften.

"I'm a cowboy and I might cuss a little bit, but I say quite a few prayers every time."

We first met up with Hunter and his dad last summer when he was competing at the Hitching Post. With the help of our Go Pro camera, we were able to take a peek into Hunter's world -- hanging on for dear life, ride after wild ride.

Hunter has been professionally bull riding for almost three years now, growing up on a farm with world champion parents. Bull riding runs in his blood and despite the dangers of the sport, so does positive thinking.

"I don't really like to think about the fear just 'cause if you think about it too much, it's going to end up happening or something you just never think about it and think about the good things," he said.

It takes discipline, grueling practice at their San Tan Valley farm, and a cast of several other characters to keep the show on the road. Characters like Cody Escobadeo, a bullfighter whose job is to keep Hunter safe.

"Honestly the best memories are the bad memories of gettin' like knocked out for Hunter. That feels great, walkin' in bringing a bull away, just gettin' hurt honestly makes you feel like you did your job right in a sense," said Cody.

Between the three of them, there's a lot of lessons, laughs and a few injuries, like the time Cody got hooked by a bull's horn.

"My arm broke, I'm walking out, we took my vest off and there's blood and I looked down and I had blood on my belly, soon found out I had two belly buttons," he said.

At the end of the day, Hunter aims to be a world champ, adding that following your dreams can be easy when you have a support system like this.

"We just like to joke around a bunch, and whenever we need to be serious before the performance, we try to be, and just have fun," he said.

"I'm really proud, that boy's got so much talent, he's got a real good attitude, I'll tell you what he just totally amazes me," said Frank.

You can catch Hunter on Wednesdays and Saturdays when he rides for the Arizona High School Rodeo Association.
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