Les Shepperson hadn't been born yet when his dad, Frank, became the 1975 world champion in steer wrestling.
Sure, Shepperson would later see video of his dad, and on some level he knew Frank's success was a big deal.
Just how big he truly didn't know, at least not until he got on the professional rodeo circuit and saw for himself the difficulty of winning against a field of championship-capable athletes.
Now Shepperson is emerging as one of the top competitors in steer wrestling, and he could match his dad's feat and leave the Thomas & Mack Center with a championship of his own in the National Finals Rodeo.
With his dad, who wears his championship belt buckle, watching from the stands, the 34-year-old son is projected to finish second. Shepperson leads the field with an average time of 4.27 seconds after Wednesday's seventh go-round.
"That's what I've strived for my whole life is to win a world championship, just like he did," Shepperson said. "It's something that's in range now, so I'm going to try my hardest to get it."
Shepperson's family dynamic isn't unique in pro rodeo. This NFR underscores how bloodlines are connected through the years.
Kaycee Feild and Tuf Cooper made history at the 2011 NFR when they became the first two second-generation champions in the same year. Feild won in bareback riding, and Cooper took the tie-down roping title.
Their fathers set high standards - Lewis Feild won five championships, and Roy Cooper took home eight titles.
The NFR has connections other than father-son. Saddle bronc riders Jake and Jesse Wright are the brothers of two-time champion Cody Wright, and barrel racer Mary Walker is married to 1981 champion steer wrestler Byron Walker.
Shepperson, who graduated from the University of Wyoming with a degree in agricultural business, never felt forced to follow his dad's path.
He found his way into rodeo through his own love of the sport.
"It's what I've wanted to do ever since I was a little kid," Shepperson said.
He hasn't had an easy trip.
Shepperson made only one previous NFR, qualifying in 2008 and winning $95,802 to finish 13th.
That was his highlight season until this year. Shepperson, who won the Reno Rodeo this year, has just more than $97,000 in earnings and is ninth.
But the projected standings place him second to close friend Luke Branquinho, and the champion probably won't be determined until the final day.
The two trained together two weeks before the NFR, and Shepperson came away with a confidence boost after some promising performances.
He and Branquinho are chasing the same goal, but Shepperson said they don't take the competition against each other personally.
"It's more us against the steer than it is us against each other," Shepperson said. "We both hope each other does their best, and we try to win with what we got."
Now it's a matter of whether Shepperson can carry his strong run through this NFR to a title.
He knows his dad will be watching from the stands while wearing his championship belt buckle.
"He's supported me so much through everything, helped me with everything, teaching me how to bulldog," Shepperson said. "So, yeah, it means everything to me."
■ NOTE - The seventh go-round attendance was 17,245. It was just the second time this NFR a session didn't set a record.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.