His biggest fan

Highlights

  • Ben Jones has been a staple on the BFTS since 2008.
  • His mother Helen Aldridge traveled to the U.S. for the first time last month to watch her son compete at Finals.
  • Aldridge is a breast cancer survivor who just last month received a clean bill of health after a five-year battle.
  • Jones is planning to apply for a green card in January.
  • Jones is not competing in Australia this month and is instead traveling to South America with plans to compete at next week’s PBR Brahma Super Bull Finals in Americana, Brazil.

In This Article

If Ben Jones is known for one thing besides dancing after each of his qualified rides, it's the fact that he wears his emotions on his shirtsleeve.

The emotional 33-year-old Aussie has been an open book when it comes to the trials and tribulations of his life story, with the exception of one rather personal topic.

Until recently, Jones never spoke about his mother's five-year battle with breast cancer.

Helen Aldridge, who just weeks before the World Finals was finally told she was cancer-free, made her first trip to the United States to spend a week with her son at the World Finals. The two spoke candidly about the difficulty Jones had with being a world away from the woman who had worked three jobs to raise her three children as a single mother.

"A lot of people know a lot about my life," Jones said, "but I don't let out my whole life story and I didn't want to talk about it in case something did go wrong. I would have felt bad that I was here the whole time and not at home looking after her like I probably should have been." 

Truth be known, Jones did ask his mother if she wanted him to stay in Australia with the family.

"She told me, 'No, that's one thing I don't want you to do,'" he recalled.

Aldridge's dream for her son was for him to "finish what he started."

Jones' story has been well documented on www.pbr.com, as well as various interviews and profiles broadcast on TV during Built Ford Tough Series events.

He came to the States in 1998, but was forced to stay home in Australia a year later because of legal issues. He missed the next six years until he began competing in Australia again in 2005, and returned to the U.S. in 2008.

His best finish was in 2011, when he ended the year ranked 14th in the world standings.

"We've talked about it before," Jones said. "I've been down some dark roads, but mom's always been there from the start to the finish."

Aldridge admitted, in the early days, she had wished her son would have chosen something other than the most dangerous sport in the world, but there was no changing his mind.

Jones was set on pursuing a career as a professional bull rider.

He said in Australia it's hard to make a living at the sport, so he knew America was where he needed to come and, according Aldridge, encouraging her son to pursue his dreams was the right thing to do.

"I'm proud of him," said Aldridge, who added that her son has always done things the hard way. "I wish he would have changed his mind, but he was never going to, so it was better to hang in there and support him."

In 2007, Jones was in Australia for the World Cup.

He was with his mother in Townsville, the home of this weekend's Troy Dunn Invitational, when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.

Aldridge, who had no idea what the future held, "put it behind" her and attended the World Cup event without having discussed her situation with anyone other than Jones.

"She's been back to the doctor twice now, and everything's clear," Jones said. "That's one thing that probably helped me in ways I didn't know. She was always behind me and if things did go majorly wrong I didn't want to still be living that life and be that person.

"It made me focus on bull riding and that's why we're both here today."

Jones said it's become increasingly hard to leave Australia on recent trips home.

"I'm going to apply for my green card in January and give back to America what America has given to me - a second chance at life."

He sees the pride of a mother smiling, while she sees her son competing as a professional athlete - "we're soulmates," she said - and he has tried harder to make the right decisions in his life.

As hard as it is, he's not in Australia this month for the first three Australian Cup Series events. Instead, he's going to be traveling to South America for the PBR Brahma Super Bull Finals being held in Americana, Brazil.

It was a decision made easier a month ago when doctors told Aldridge, who reclaimed her maiden name after divorcing Jones' father, she was cancer free.

"People say the Brazilians are the best and if you want to be the best, I reckon you go mix it with the best," said Jones, who added that he's able to relax and enjoy competing since hearing of his mother's recent news.

"It's going to be hard not going home, but I'm going to apply for my green card in January and give back to America what America has given to me-a second chance at life.

"A lot of friends still live that life that I just can't live anymore. It's hard for me to just go home and not be around them. I fall back, not into those dark roads, but just being around that stuff is bad and I get down on myself and it takes my mind off the job I want to do and what I want - that's a gold buckle."

Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.

© 2014 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.

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