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Tuff Hedeman

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Early life, professional career

Hedeman was born in El Paso, Texas. He married Tracy Stepp on May 20, 1986. A neck injury at the National Finals Rodeo in 1993 kept Tuff out of the arena for the entire year of 1994.

Tuff covered Bodacious the Bull for a full 8 seconds three times in his career, earning an amazing 95 points, at a BRO (Bull Riders Only) event in Long Beach, California in 1993. (Scoring for bull riding can go as high as 100 points, with 50 possible points for the bull, and an additional 50 points for the rider. This is an extremely rare event, by any bull & rider. PRCA Cowboy Wade Leslie scored a perfect 100 on Growney's "Wolfman" in Central Point, Oregon, in 1991, the only combination of bull & rider to do so in the sport.)

On their fourth matchup, during the final round of the 1995 PBR World Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada, Tuff had a picture-perfect seat on the great bull's back, when Bodacious managed to throw him forward, and the cowboy's face met the fractious bull's back, crushing every bone in the left side of his face. The sickening sound ricocheted around the arena, as Tuff's face was smashed in. Popular opinion has it that any other Cowboy would have been killed, but Tuff lived up to his moniker, and he walked out of the arena, bloody, but under his own steam. Despite this horrifying incident, Tuff went on to be the 1995 PBR World Champion. Tuff has undergone 11 surgeries, to date, to repair the damage done to his visage by the bull. Incredibly, 6 weeks after his life changing ride on Bodacious, Tuff returned to the NFR Finals and he once again drew Bodacious. Tuff got in the chute with the bull, rigged up and sat down on the yellow bull's back. With a quick nod of his head, the gateman opened the gate and the bull shot out, dragging Tuff's rigging. Tuff had "stepped-off" the bull and "turned him out," opting not ride him, something hardly ever heard of in a Championship round.

The arena crowd went wild when Tuff waved his hat at the bull as the Charbray trotted off. (Scott Breding then drew the bull two days later and promptly sustained a serious concussion and a broken eye socket, even though he was wearing a face mask. Two days later, on December 11th, 1995, Bodacious was retired "for the safety of the bull riders". He was 7 years old at the time, and considered the most dangerous bull in the business).

 

Retirement and after

Tuff just missed winning the PBR World Title in 1996, coming in 2nd place that year. He finished 3rd in the world during the 1997 PBR season. His last ride was at the PBR event in Odessa, Texas in 1998, when he landed on his head after getting thrown off and herniated a disc in his previously-injured neck. After some consideration, Tuff eventually called it a career and retired in 1999. Tuff was leading the PBR World Standings in 1998 at the time of his unfortunate injury.

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