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Rodeo star Tyrell Smith embracing sobriety - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Rodeo star Tyrell Smith embracing sobriety

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Tyrell Smith has a life that many Cowboys only dream of. He’s an NFR qualifier, a National circuit finalist and has the natural talent it takes to compete with the best in the world. So it might come as a surprise that two years ago he nearly lost it all. 

“I basically thought I was done rodeoing," Smith said. “I couldn’t balance the cowboy party stereotype that for some reason in my younger days I wanted to be.”

Like many young rodeo athletes, Smith couldn’t avoid the tug of the cowboy lifestyle. Ride hard during the day, drink all night and do it again tomorrow. Tyrell was an alcoholic.

“I grew up in rodeo so I should have been able to stay away from it,” Tyrell said. “But when you start off you get to going to Fort Worth or Denver and going to them big rodeos. It’s pretty easy to fall in that scenario where instead of being remembered for your riding, you’re remembered for ‘that dude’s crazy’.”

Hard living took a toll on Tyrell. It led to injuries, family problems, and a strained relationship with his girlfriend at the time Janelle Ritz. It all came to a head at the 2014 Circuit Finals. 

“It wasn’t the outcome he was hoping for,” recalled Janelle. “And everything was just kind of falling apart at that moment.”

Tyrell was at his lowest point and knew a change was needed if he wanted to continue his rodeo career. It took some tough love – but Tyrell settled down, married Janelle, found faith and gave up alcohol.  

“In my opinion it shows that God is real and that he does care,” Tyrell said of his sobriety. “I’ve been blessed beyond belief with someone who supports me. My wife Janelle. She has backed me every step of the way”

“It makes me smile everyday knowing that he’s changed so much to better us and to better himself,” said Janelle who also gave up drinking. “To see where he’s going now it’s pretty amazing.” 

Today, Tyrell is nearly two years sober and ranked 24th in the PRCA standings. He climbed 12 spots after a lucrative Cowboy Christmas. But more important than winning Tyrell has gained perspective, health, and a second chance.

“The guy I was back then never thought this was possible,” said the 29-year old Smith. “He would look at you and lie to you and say oh yeah, I can win a gold buckle but never thought he was good enough. Right now, it may not happen this year or the next year but before I’m done there will be at least one or two on my belt.”

After hanging on for the toughest ride of his life, it’s hard to doubt him.

RELATED: #Spur4Chris: Tyrell Smith riding to help friend fight cancer

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