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PBR legend Adriano Moraes returns to Las Vegas to support son

Updated November 8, 2019 - 11:37 pm

Inaugural PBR champion Adriano Moraes returned to Las Vegas this week, feeling like a proud father in more ways than one.

For one, the PBR is flourishing, generating far more interest and revenue than it did 25 years ago — when he won the first of his three PBR championships. For two, his son, Antonio, christened the festivities Friday at the PBR World Finals by singing the national anthem at T-Mobile Arena.

“It was much smaller than this, not as glamorous and not as rich,” the elder Moraes, a native Brazilian who resides in Cachoeira Paulista, said of the first finals. “Now, 25 years later, we’re back here to celebrate this great event. … And having my boy here, that’s pretty neat.”

Moraes celebrates his son’s success as much — or more — than his own, and modestly watched Antonio serenade the crowd before the third round of the finals. The younger Moraes, 19, bypassed a career as a cowboy to pursue one as a country musician, and released his debut extended play this year.

He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and also sang the national anthem before that city’s PBR event in August.

“It’s good to see my boy have the same desire and determination that I had. He says it’s because of me and the way I faced stuff,” Adriano Moraes said. “He learned that we need to be brave, need to be courageous and need to try our best. It doesn’t matter the obstacles. … I’m very proud that he’s trying his best.”

Adriano Moraes, 49, grew up riding bulls in Brazil and moved to Keller, Texas, in 1993 in pursuit of glory in the United States. He fondly recalled competing in the PBR’s first event in December 1993 and said he never imagined the organization would blossom into what it is today.

He won the first-ever world title in 1994 and added championships in 2001 and 2006, earning admiration in America, Brazil and, most importantly, his own household.

“I would see when he got hurt, and he would always get back up and get on another bull,” Antonio Moraes said. “He’s my hero.”

Adriano Moraes retired in 2008 with his family by his side and moved back to Brazil. All the while, his son developed a passion for country music and began studying piano and guitar. He moved in 2018 to Nashville and released the self-titled debut in September.

He also honored his father’s career with his first single, “Let It Ride.”

“My dad, he’s always been my hero and my role model, my hero,” he said. “I always wanted to give back to him for everything he’s done for me and my family. That was the outlet, writing a song.”

Adriano Moraes hadn’t been to the PBR World Finals since his retirement, and is overjoyed to be back again. Granted, the circumstances are a little bit different.

But they mean just as much to him.

Or more.

“Now we’re back for another chapter in our lives,” he said with a smirk as he glanced at Antonio. “Having my boy somehow involved in this western lifestyle especially through music … I’m very proud (and) honored.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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