After three long years and much deliberation, Justin has finally decided to announce his retirement from professional bull riding. It has been bittersweet and emotional to close this chapter in our lives, to say the very least. Since Justin’s injury at the 2012 PBR World Finals, he’s undergone a long list of surgeries to repair not only the damage done by Mick E Mouse, but also the damage done by a 20 year bull riding career. Justin has avoided making an official statement for quite some time now, I think mostly because he knew once he made the decision publicly to walk away, it was really going to be over.
Justin spent a full year recovering, his body totally rebuilt. Then he did what he’s always done—he hit the road again. He got on a few amateur bulls, testing the waters in preparation for his return to the Built Ford Tough tour, and truly rode like he’d never missed a beat. There was no doubt in either of our minds that with some repetition and a hardcore workout regimen, he’d be back in the PBR World Standings. But this time, something was different.
Justin Koon rides Circle T's T-Rex for 90 points during Round 1 of the 2012 PBR BFTS event in Atlanta. Photo by Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com.
It’s always been understood in our marriage that the decision to walk away from bull riding would be his when the time came. Whenever he talked about retiring from the sport, I listened to all of his thoughts, but remained as neutral as possible—honestly, scared of swaying him one way or the other. Bull riding was his first love and passion, and was his life long before I met him. His love of the sport is a beautiful thing—something I have always respected and supported unwaveringly.
When he came to me after countless second-guessings and years of indecision and told me he wanted to be done, I fully supported his decision. We find peace in the fact that Justin can look back on his career and know that he gave it his all for over twenty years. Bull riding is the one and only sport that Justin ever had any interest in. He poured himself into riding, heart and soul, blood and guts, for two decades. As emotional as we are about the end of this era, we are both so proud of his many accomplishments and success.
Anyone who knows Justin, knows that he’s never been afraid of injury. He is the toughest person I know. I have witnessed him ride through the pain of broken bones like it was any other day time and time again. It may sound flippant of me to say, but to us, there was really no injury that Justin couldn’t handle—except for trauma to his head. Justin has suffered so many head injuries and concussions that even the slightest blow to the head affects his memory for weeks. It wasn’t until he’d had so much time off to recover that we really noticed the dramatic improvement in his ability to remember things. That’s just not something he is willing to sacrifice any longer.
Elyse and Justin Koon.
I wish we could thank every single person who’s helped us along the way. We’ve had infinite support and encouragement throughout this amazing journey. We will forever thank the PBR for the opportunities of a lifetime—for showing us the world one arena at a time, and for introducing us to the most incredible friends and fans we could have ever dreamed of. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.
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