Meet the Member BJ Billingsley
story by Michele Toberer Nineteen-year-old BJ Billingsley has been a member of the Arkansas Cowboys Association for four years, competing as a tie-down roper. BJ […]
story by Michele Toberer
There is a beautiful eagle feather encased in a trophy box that sits in Legend Mill’s Jonesboro, Arkansas home. The feather was awarded to him by tribe members at the Indian National Finals Rodeo in 2016, when Legend won the fast-time award during the short round of the tie-down roping. It is one of Legend’s favorite awards he’s received over his many years of rodeo competitions.
Legend was born in Jonesboro and was raised in Quitman, Arkansas as an only child by his parents, Brad and Misty Mills. He graduated from Greenbriar High School in 2012. Legend now works with Brad and his grandfather in the family business, Statewide Crop Insurance, where they sell crop insurance as well as farming about 1800 acres of soybeans, corn, and rice.
“Growing up I always had good horses underneath me, that’s something I definitely thank my parents for, that they always kept me on good horses.” Legend credits his mom, dad, and Brad’s college rodeo buddy, Ricky Hyde, for teaching him all he knows about roping. “Ricky is a 6-time NFR qualifier, and I am so grateful that I have had the access to his knowledge and experience over the years, they have all taught me so much.” One of Legend’s main horses is a 15-year-old, bay Quarter Horse named Monkey, that he purchased from Ricky in 2012. Although Monkey’s personality is not exactly lovable, he is all business, and Legend loves to ride him when there are fresh calves. Ollie, is Legend’s other 14-year-old bay gelding that he is equally grateful to own. “I get along really well with them both, I like being able to split runs between them and save my horsepower.”
Legend competed in the Arkansas High School Rodeo Association as well as competing at ACA rodeos from the age of 13-years-old. Although Legend competed as a team roper some, tie-down roping has been his main event. Injuries can be a huge factor for all athletes, and Legend’s rodeo career has been riddled with several, including multiple shoulder surgeries. Legend is currently recovering from his 4th shoulder surgery done by sports medicine doctor, Dr. Tandy Freeman in Dallas, Texas. “He’s put me under the blade a few times now.” His first injury came during his freshman year and kept him from the high school finals. However, his sophomore year he came back to be the AHSRA Champion Tie-Down Roper. Another shoulder surgery kept him from half of his junior season, but he again made a comeback finishing his senior year as the Reserve-Champion Tie-Down Roper. After high school, Legend competed on the Northeast Oklahoma State University rodeo team for a semester, before heading to Stephenville, Texas to make a run as a pro-rodeo cowboy. On his travels to Texas, Legend was in a major car accident that kept him from his rodeo aspirations for almost two years. His determination never left as he battled through nearly a year of recovery from a badly broken leg and hip, and he knew that when he came back to rodeo, he wanted to be there in Stephenville where the competition would be the highest, so he would have to push himself harder to get better and compete at his best. Legend spent 1 ½ years on the rodeo trail, until his grandfather had open-heart surgery, and Legend went to Fort Towson, Oklahoma to help with his recovery. Once his grandfather was back to good health, Legend stepped back onto the trail and headed towards California to stay for the spring rodeos. As the season was ramping up for the legendary cowboy Christmas in July, Legend re-injured his shoulder in Reno, and made the decision to take the doctor’s advice, heading back to Arkansas to take some time off to heal. Although his shoulder has kept him from competing much this season, he has every intention to come back once again, even stronger. He is keeping his horses in shape and doing as much as he can to stay strong and keep his mind sharp. There is no doubt, Legend will be back at ACA rodeos as soon as he has healed again, and the rodeo trail where legends are made, will continue on.
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