ANAHEIM, Calif. - After four years of finishing in the Top 3,
last season was supposed to be the year J.B.
Mauney finally won the gold buckle.
Instead, it was the worst the season statistically of his five-year career on the Built Ford Tough Series.
Still, it was anything but a lost year for the 25-year-old from Mooresville, N.C. He finished in the Top 10, and at home, he became a father. His daughter Bella was born last spring.
"When she was born it changed a lot of things for me," said Mauney, who hopes to be Bella's primary caretaker. "It opened my eyes to a lot of stuff. It's not just J.B. anymore. I have a little girl to support and take care of, and my actions reflect on her, so it changed a lot."
'It's not just J.B. anymore. I have a little girl to support and take care of, and my actions reflect on her, so it changed a lot.'
In 2011, bull riding was not his primary focus as he dealt with
his newfound responsibilities.
He had stretches where he went without making the Built Ford Tough Championship Round, but he was still able to win an event in Duluth, Ga. - the 12th of his career. He earned in excess of $200,000 for the fifth straight year.
Yet his riding average of 43.18 percent was not only the lowest of his career, but also just over 12 points below his career average.
Despite a "bad boy" image, J.B. Mauney is one of the most accessible riders in the PBR, and is acutely aware of the importance of PBR fans.
For Mauney, though, that was then, and this is now.
"The next event, you have to forget about what happened last week or last year and just ride for that weekend," he explained. "You have to clear your head out.
"The older I get the harder it gets. It used to be that I didn't care. I'd just go on and ride and it always worked out. The older I've got, I get to thinking a little more than I should. I'm just going back to the basics - have fun, ride bulls, and whatever happens, happens."
In New York, he was 2-for-3, and just missed out on the championship round.
He then traveled to Denver, Colo., for the Touring Pro Division Finals. He was 2-for-3 again, with two qualified rides in the long round, before coming down early in the short go.
'I feel as good as I ever have.'
Now he makes his way to Southern California for the Anaheim
Invitational, and according to Mauney, "I feel as good as I ever
That's saying a lot for a man who has a list of injuries lengthier than his many accomplishments.
In fact, after the World Finals, he didn't get on any bulls for close to two months in an effort to allow his ailing tailbone to heal. Eventually, he got on a few practice bulls the week before the New York event.
"I got tired of sitting at home, so I decided to go get on some bulls. Figured I might as well try it before I came up (to New York)," Mauney said. "It feels like I'm moving like I'm supposed to be and riding like I should."
For Mauney, who drew Red Man in the opening round of this weekend's event, things are going to be different in 2012.
It's about finding a balance between his personal and professional life.
"I have a little girl at home and she keeps me straight now," he said. "And we watch bull riding tapes all day."
WATCH THE ANAHEIM INVITATIONAL: The action from the second Built Ford Tough Series event of the season will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network on Sunday, Jan. 15, at 6 p.m. ET. Follow along live with the PBR Live Event Center, Saturday at 10 p.m. ET and Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.
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