In celebration of Arizona's centennial, the Star will feature our picks for the 100 best athletes, moments and teams.
Throughout the summer, we will showcase our list - with the first 90 in no particular order. Later this month, Greg Hansen will choose his top 10, with a column on each.
During his schoolboy days at Glendale's Deer Valley High School, Ty Murray was a promising member of the school's gymnastics team.
The problem, however, was that Deer Valley's gymnastics meets were on weekends and that was rodeo time for Ty Murray. He never did compete in a high school gymnastics meet.
If anyone was ever destined to be a cowboy, it was Murray, whose father, Butch, broke horses for a living and rode bulls competitively. The family grew up on a ranch in rural Glendale and Ty was riding calves by the time he was 2.
"My dad would hold my belt loop and lead me around," Murray says at Tymurray.com.
At 12, saving money doing ranch chores, Murray purchased a mechanical bucking machine. He decided to train with the high school gymnastics team to improve his balance and dexterity.
At 18, Murray won the Arizona and National High School All-Around rodeo championships. He immediately turned pro and soon won six consecutive world All-Around championships in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.
At 23, he became the youngest millionaire in PRCA history.
In his book, "King of the Cowboys," Murray talks at length about the brutal series of injuries that essentially forced him to retire from competitive rodeo in 2002, when he was only 33.
He required surgery on both knees, his right shoulder and then his left shoulder. Those injuries forced him off the PRCA circuit for three full seasons. He won a record seventh All-Around world championship in 1998.
"I have loved the cowboy life, everything about it, since the day I was born," Murray says on his website. "There's no other feeling on this earth like making great rides on great animals. I hope people will remember me as a great cowboy."
Murray was a regular competitor at Tucson's La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, winning the bull riding title three times.
He is now a Professional Bull Riders Inc. board adviser, and a frequent television rodeo analyst, and is married to recording artist Jewel. They live on a 2,100-acre ranch in Stephenville, Texas.
By the numbers
Murray was only 5 feet 8 inches and weighed 140 pounds during his days as a bull riding champ.
On StarNet: See the archive of Sports Centennial articles at: azstarnet.com/ sportscentennial