Travis Graves has traveled with his two children, Tee, 2 and-a-half years old, and True, 1 year old, throughout two of the most successful years of his rodeo career. Along with wife Tamika, Graves balances life as one of the winningest heelers of all time with life as an all-star dad.
I’ve looked up to my mom and my dad as far as how they provided me with the tools to accomplish my goals and my dreams in life. As far as my dad, he had an indoor arena and we always had lots of steers and horses. My mom always took me to ropings and junior rodeos when my dad couldn’t. I think that’s what it takes to really understand what your kid wants and what your kid’s dream is. Having your kids set goals and talking about them and supporting them and starting to work toward them—it’s so important. My parents knew I had a goal, knew that’s what I wanted to do and provided everything they could to help me reach that. I want to make sure my kids have goals and not just let them cruise through life. If that means less time on the road for me and more time supporting my kids, then I’m happy to do it absolutely. Hopefully, with the Elite Rodeo Association, we’ll be able to be home more and support our kids even more while making more money roping ourselves, too.
My wife, Tamika, is everything—as far as my day, I get up, eat breakfast and play with the kids. Then I’m outside roping all day. I start at 10 a.m. and I get through at 3 or 4 p.m. She has to watch the kids, play with them and she gets the rig ready to go for two little kids for weeks and sometimes months at a time. It’s a full time job. It’s a ton of work, but she’s really good at it. Whatever the kids want, she wants that for them.
Times Have Changed
Back in the day, the wives and kids of rodeo cowboys didn’t go on the road. Nowadays, they all go. I wouldn’t want to do it the old way. It wouldn’t be any fun. I’m so glad that my family goes with me. The money has changed—back in the day, the money wasn’t there. They couldn’t afford it and had to have four guys to a rig, a camper and a four-horse trailer and one horse apiece. Now, with our trailers and the money in the sport, we can get away with bringing the whole family.
My little boy, Tee, is 2-and-a half. He was born Nov. 5, and he went to the NFR at a month old. He’s been on the road just about his whole life. I just try to keep my family first as far as everything I do. I’ve got to do my job to provide for my family, but after I rope we try to do fun things like go to the zoo, rope the dummy, whatever they want. Making time for my kids is my top priority.
I’m not pushing Tee to rope. I would love for him to rope, and I could help him. But if he wants to play golf, I’m behind him 100 percent. He still swings his rope backward half the time, but he loves to ride with me. He loves to watch NFR tapes. It’s crazy that he’s so young but he loves it and he picks up on so much. Right now, he is learning so much and wanting to be part of it, and that’s great. I will haul the pony when he gets a little older. Right now, he’ll ride his pony for about 20 minutes, but then he’s done.
There’s a school right here by my house in Morgan Mill, Texas, and it’s hard because I want him to go to school and play sports. But I want to be around him while I’m rodeoing, too. I can’t really say yet what we’re going to do, so we’ll just wait and see what’s best for him when the time comes.
Travis Graves has won the Bob Feist Invitational, the Wildfire Open to the World, the USTRC’s Priefert Open, the American and the George Strait Team Roping Classic. Originally from Jay, Okla., Graves now calls Morgan Mill, Texas, home, with wife, Tamika, and children, Tee and True.