Double Vision


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ESPN.com: That's got to be a weird feeling.

Chance Smart:
It's a terribly weird feeling and I wish — at one point I asked my wife, Summer, 'Why didn't you film me?'

She said, 'You do not want to remember any of that stuff.'

I put her through a lot — she's been through everything that I've been through right there along with me.

ESPN.com: In some ways, that's got to be just as tough on her, especially emotionally, to be worrying about you.

Smart: Even several months after the injury, we're sitting there fighting over whether I was going to ride again because it took forever before we could find a doctor. I didn't know if the eye could be fixed. So, we're sitting there wondering where our career's going, where our life's going and she's sitting there with me the whole time. Sure did help to have a friend along with me.

ESPN.com: So, you're going to keep your normal schedule of rodeos for the rest of the year?

Smart: Yeah, that's what I'm pretty sure of, that I am going to keep going. This is what I'm looking at: I've been trying to come back ever since I've been riding — I guess it's been almost a month now. So, I've been back about a month and I did buck off nine bulls in a row, and I was pretty upset.

I went through a lot trying to figure out what the deal was, and how come I'm not riding, and how come I'm wasting money trying to get on bulls. It's costing us money to enter rodeos, so I'm sitting here living off of hardly anything because I ain't had an income in four months, and here I am getting on bulls and it's costing me money and I'm bucking off of them! So, I was getting pretty upset with myself and my wife's been here keeping me up and encouraging me. And finally, I rode a bull in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and I was tickled to death that I rode a bull. I didn't care if I was 69 points, 79 points — I felt like I was 99 points.

So, I'm looking now… to win the world. That's where I'm headed. I'm fixing to have to stick on the road and we're going to rodeo as hard as the wheels on my new RV will let us. We're going to go from rodeo to rodeo — me and Kanin Asay are buddies together — over the fourth of July — there's about two weeks there. I'm not looking to make the top 15. I'm not even in the top 50. The first time I can remember looking at the standings and not seeing my name in the top 50. So, I'm pretty excited. That right there gives me a boost of energy to think, 'Oh yeah, you guys that are in the top 15, you might as well count yourselves back a slot or two because I'm coming, and I'm coming wide open.' I just use my faith in God and push myself and I know that he's got great plans for me and we're going to be right there excelling the whole way up. Ain't nowhere but up from here, ain't nowhere but up, and that's where I'm headed.

ESPN.com: So, you could say that you don't mind a challenge.

Smart: No. I don't mind a challenge. Last year, I led the world for 10 months out of the year. I led it all year long and I lost my world title in the 10th round of the NFR. And that was a challenge to me, to be able to pick myself up from that kind of a loss — to finish second in the year of what I've dreamed of all my life — pick myself up and still be able to compete with that and then I got injured. Once I got injured — a lot of people when they get a head injury, it's hard to come back from mentally — we've had some obstacles in our course, but no obstacles are too big to not be able to overcome them. So, that's what I'm looking at — I'm overcoming everything that steps in my path.

ESPN.com: Speaking of overcoming a head injury mentally, does wearing a helmet help and have you been wearing it since you started bull riding again after the injury?

Smart: Yes, actually, I thought about wearing one before-hand — before I ever got injured. I talked to a buddy of mine and he said he can't think of a reason why not to wear it. And I got to thinking myself, that's a good idea, I might try one, but I didn't want to change anything last year because, why change something that's working for you?

So, after I talked to him, two weeks later, I got hit in the cheek. After that, I was like, 'You know what? It don't matter, my life is more important than any stupid little pride that I might have to not want to wear a helmet.' So, I just dropped my pride. I don't wear one out of fear; I wear one out of wisdom.

You know, bull riding's a dangerous sport. Them guys can wear helmets playing football and hitting each other, think about what they'd do if they were going to mount up on a bull. Why not wear a helmet? So, that's the way I look at it. I'm looking for longevity. Bull riders have a short career, and if I can make my career longer by wearing a helmet, then I'm going to do that.

ESPN.com: What did you learn from this injury?

Smart: This is what I learned most out of what I've been going through. It is very simple to praise God when everything's going your way — I did it. Try getting knocked down from that, not being able to compete for three months, not even knowing if you're going to ride again — try praising God during that. When you can praise God through that — that's when the true worship and and Christianity that's in you is going to come out.

ESPN.com: I read in your blog that you're wearing prism glasses. What exactly are those?

Smart: All it does is redirects your eye — where it's looking. If you were to put a regular old prism in, it'd make you look straight up. So, what they've done is they've been able to cut the glass down to where it has a little bit of an angle to it. My right eye sits just a smidgeon down from my left eye, so that's what's causing my double vision, and the further down that I look, the worse that it gets. So, that prism pulls my sight back up. I've got the prism in my right eye — and that redirects my vision up and aligns my eyes back together again.

ESPN.com: So, it could be just a matter of time?

Smart: Yeah, it could be; it could be. It's been about six months since the injury, and I know it's gotten a lot better since the injury because I tried to ride a month after I got hurt and it did not go very well. I was seeing two bulls at once and, boy, it didn't go good.

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