It’s good to be the king

There’s no doubt that Trevor Brazile is the “King of the Cowboys.” The nine-time world champion all-around cowboy – who tied Jim Shoulders with his 16th gold buckle earlier this week – is the face of the sport of ProRodeo, the unequivocal No. 1 cowboy in the world.

I’ve interviewed Trevor probably more than any other cowboy through the years, so I decided to ask him if he’d spare 30 minutes from his amazingly busy schedule and let me check out his posh suite at the MGM Grand. Trevor was kind enough to indulge me, and I met up with him at the casino’s main lobby Thursday afternoon after he’d participated in an autograph and photo session.

He led me through two large doors marked with a Skylofts sign and featuring ghosted privacy glass just off the main lobby, and we walked past a row of desks filled with customer service agents busy helping VIPs. We ran into his team roping partner, Patrick Smith, at the elevators and rode together to the 21st floor.

A swanky lobby area greeted us, along with a long concierge desk (with 24-hour service) where two staff members sat waiting to help the floor’s guests. Trevor stopped to ask for a couple cars to be arranged to take family and friends to the rodeo, and we headed down a long, white hall to his suite. He informed me that star rapper Jay-Z had checked into the casino earlier that day and said he’d seen quite a few celebrities on his floor in the three or four years he’d had the pleasure of making the MGM Grand his Wrangler NFR home.

Trevor Brazile sits down to dinner with wife Shada, son Treston and daughter Style in their post MGM Grand suite.

Trevor’s wife of 10 years, Shada, and their two children – 4-year-old son Treston and 1-year-old daughter Style – greeted him as we stepped into the suite. VIPs like Trevor also get butlers – or personal care attendants, if you prefer – in their suites, and his was busy stocking the fridge.

Trevor gave me the grand tour of the suite he estimates is 3,000 square feet (twice as big as my house!), from the amazing outdoor deck that included a hot tub, circular sitting chair and an amazing view of the city, to the personal gym and walk-in closets attached to the two upstairs bedrooms. The gym featured a treadmill, elliptical machine and set of shiny dumbbells, while the master bath had two televisions (including one inside the main mirror).

Trevor and Treston checked out the view of The Strip from their 21st-floor balcony.

The suite was made mostly with white marble, had an eclectic feel and an open and vintage design. A pool table and comfortable sitting room with a big flat-screen TV embedded in the wall completed the downstairs.

He was truly in awe of his surroundings.

“I just love this place,” he said. “When you’re going to be somewhere for two weeks, it’s great to have a place like this. We’ve gotten to know the staff here, and it’s like a home away from home.”

As I was chatting with Shada, I noticed Trevor studying his team roping run from the previous round on the GAC rebroadcast, which was playing in the living room. Style and Treston were also watching their daddy on the TV, and I couldn’t help but chuckle at the scene. There were two kid-sized roping dummies in the sitting room, and I could see that the kids had been doing their own bit of roping in Las Vegas.

Trevor, Shada and the kids sat down to enjoy some pizza and calzones from a local eatery – VIPs can get takeout from anywhere delivered post haste – and we chatted about the impressive setup as the kids played and deposited their pizza slices on the marble floor.

I was pleased to find that Trevor was as humble as ever about his choice digs, saying that he’s always having to pinch himself when he is able to enjoy an experience like the VIP suite.

“Every time I walk in here, I’m thinking, ‘I’m not supposed to be in here,’” Brazile said. “But I’m definitely not going to tell anybody else that.”

Shada said they love the MGM Grand’s hospitality so much, they decided to celebrate a special milestone there in late May.

“We had always talked about where we were going to go for our 10th anniversary, and we came here,” she said. “We loved it.”

Trevor's suite includes a long marble dining table and pool table.

Trevor and Shada said the staff went out of its way to help Treston celebrate his fourth birthday on Dec. 1, decorating the suite with elaborate spider webs and other objects for his Spiderman-themed party. The suite is a unique sanctuary, where Trevor and the family can relax, spend time together and decompress.

He said he often has his morning coffee outside on the balcony while enjoying the view and thinking about his upcoming day. The family also stays in town extra days to fully enjoy the experience.

Trevor's favorite morning coffee-drinking spot.

I was curious how he and his family were handling his ultra-busy Las Vegas schedule, which seems to be non-stop from sunrise until sunset. He and Shada both said it was just their nature to stay busy.

They aren’t people who like to sit around watching TV and eating bon-bons.

“I really think we get more and more used to (the crazy schedule),” Trevor said. “We don’t notice how busy we are just day-to-day at home and everywhere. You take on jobs that no one else can do for you. I can’t have anybody rope for me or be as passionate about growing the Relentless brand.”

Shada agreed.

“I hate that question when people ask, ‘How do you do all that?’” said Shada, who also works full-time on Wrangler’s All-Around Baby clothing line. “We just do it, and it’s become a way of life.”

In the 30 minutes I spent with him, Trevor was juggling being a dad – wiping runny noses and picking up after the kids – answering phone calls and making various arrangements for family and friends.

Kids' roping dummies accentuated the Brazile suite's sitting room.

I asked if he ever got tired of being the face of the sport, dealing with the mountain of requests and obligations he’s faced with on a daily basis or living a life that’s always in hyper drive.

“I welcome it,” he said. “I was with Wrangler before I was ever a world champion, and I remember having to go to an autograph signing at a Western store. My biggest fear was nobody was going to know who I was and the store saying, ‘Why did we waste bringing somebody here?’ That seems like yesterday.

“I would get nervous that nobody would be there. I’ve seen some world champions not embrace (the demand of celebrity) and welcome that, and I just made a deal with myself that, if I could ever get to their status, I would enjoy it and try to let my fans enjoy it.”

While we were chatting, there was an incident involving the kids. Treston came up to report that Style had bitten him, so Trevor investigated.

“Did you bite him?” he asked Style.

“Yes,” she said, matter-of-factly.

“Why did you do that,” he asked, trying not to grin.

“I don’t know,” she mumbled.

“Well, you’d better come over here, hug him and tell him you love him,” Trevor said.

Style, dressed in trendy Western clothes just like her big brother, sauntered over and hugged Treston as both parents smiled and laughed. It was a pretty darn cute moment.

As he said after wrapping up his ninth all-around crown, Trevor mentioned that he’s living a dream he never imagined he’d experience.

“I remember people talking about Jim Shoulders having 16 world titles, and just always thought, ‘How can that happen?’” he said. “It doesn’t seem as if it’s happened as fast as fans and other people think. From when I started to when I won my first world championship just seemed like an eternity (it was six years, from when he started in 1996 and won his first all-around crown in 2002.)

“So, to be where we are today is just awesome.”

A special Crown Royal bottle given to the champ detailed Trevor's standing in the sport.

I quizzed the 35-year-old about how long he wanted to keep competing and going strong. He didn’t have a specific answer, saying that’s the question he is most asked, and said that he and his family are enjoying life as it is and that he had no plans to reevaluate his chosen profession just yet.

“I don’t know what the thing is that will make me go on to something else,” he said. “I feel blessed I’ve been able to do this for a living for so long, and I don’t regret any of it. I don’t think I would enjoy doing anything else. I’m kind of taking it a year at a time.

“I love what I do, and I don’t have any plans right now, either way.”

I found a cowboy at peace with his standing in the sport – both currently and in the annals of history – a happy father and husband and a down-to-earth cowboy who was living his dream.

I left him and the family to move on to the next item of the day two hours before he was set to rope in Round 8 in front of 17,000 cheering fans. It was great to visit with the warm and welcoming cowboy who one day may go down as the best to ever wear a pair of boots.

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