Cariboo man wins bull riding competition for friend lost to overdose

At 36 years old, Kyle Frizzi competed in a memorial bull riding contest for his close friend and former bull rider Tyrell DeRose, 35, who died after taking drugs laced with fentanyl last year. (Copper Wire Images photo)
At 36 years old, Kyle Frizzi competed in a memorial bull riding contest for his close friend and former bull rider Tyler DeRose, 35, who died after taking drugs laced with fentanyl last year. (Copper Wire Images photo)At 36 years old, Kyle Frizzi competed in a memorial bull riding contest for his close friend and former bull rider Tyrell DeRose, 35, who died after taking drugs laced with fentanyl last year. (Copper Wire Images photo) At 36 years old, Kyle Frizzi competed in a memorial bull riding contest for his close friend and former bull rider Tyler DeRose, 35, who died after taking drugs laced with fentanyl last year. (Copper Wire Images photo)
The late Tyrell DeRose (photo submitted)The late Tyrell DeRose (photo submitted)

A former bull rider who died after taking drugs laced with fentanyl is being remembered by a close friend as an inspiration.

Kyle Frizzi, 36, of Williams Lake said when Tyrell DeRose, 35, died on Jan. 8, 2021 in Edmonton, leaving behind a daughter, 9, and son, 7, he was shocked.

The two men had been friends since they were 11-year-old steer riders.

“We both had a bit of an addiction problem at one point and I think it tied us together, not so much that we partied together, but where we could talk. We had that bond and could be open with each other.”

Kyle tells people all the time there is no shame in admitting addiction problems.

“That’s something I learned from Ty. He went for treatment for addictions and honestly, before that I was scared to admit that I had a problem. He talked to me about it and took that fear away from me. He really was my biggest inspiration to go for treatment. I don’t think I would have ever done it without him.”

Kyle attended the Round Lake Treatment Centre in Vernon, where there was a focus on First Nations culture with sweats and pipe ceremonies, tools he still uses today.

Tyrell’s mom DeDe DeRose described her son Tyrell as very athletic.

“He was an AAA hockey player in Kamloops, a bull rider, snowboarder and played lacrosse,” she said. “He lived fast and loved the adrenaline rush of all the extreme sports and because of that had some severe head injuries related to bull riding, hockey and snowboarding.”

Tyrell’s first major head injury was during high school rodeo in Merritt when he was 16, she noted.

“We got a helmet mask for him and he continued to compete. He also played a competitive level of lacrosse on into adulthood, as well as bull riding and snowboarding. He worked up north, which is typical for those kinds of guys to do, and started dabbling in some alcohol and drugs.”

Born in Williams Lake, Tyrell is also survived by his older brother Matthew.

DeDe said she was a single mother and raised her sons in Kamloops.

A sunrise ceremony and celebration of life were held for Tyrell on Saturday, Sept. 25.

“My son’s Secwépemc name in English was Sunrise Hawk chosen by his grandmother Cecilia DeRose,” DeDe said. “We went to the North Thompson River and held his ashes up to the sun as it came up. We passed the ashes around — his 12 travelling partners and I.”

After the memorial, the family hosted a memorial barrel race and bull ride in Tyrell’s name at Whispering Pines Indian Band, with a special section of bull riding for Tyrell’s former close bull riding friends.

It had been nine years since Kyle’s last bull riding, but when DeDe called him and invited him to participate, she inspired him to get off the couch and start training.

“I’d entered a deep depression after Ty’s death, but talking to DeDe for just a little while got a spark back in me that brought me back to life,” he said, adding he also lost his father, grandfather and another close friend in the last couple of years.

“From that one talk she had me ready to get on a bull and go right back like I was 19 again. Deep down I knew if it was me who had died and there was going to be a memorial ride, my buddy Ty would have been there for me.”

Kyle rode for nine seconds, emerging as the only rider who qualified. He won a buckle bearing Tyrell’s name.

“I was riding for my friend and I really wanted that buckle,” he said.

Since then his life has been improving. He enjoys spending time with his children, has a new job and is keeping in shape. Tyrell and Kyle were both from Esk’etemc First Nation and Kyle hopes to do a bull riding or steer riding school for some kids there this spring.

Before the memorial, Kyle said he had a dream he was sitting in the grandstand watching the bull ride.

“There was a guy sitting with a cowboy hat on and he had his head down like Ty always did. I looked over at him. I thought he was a rodeo judge, and I said, ‘heh, what’s the score to beat? He said, ‘82.’ He lifted his head and I saw that it was Ty and I kind of turned my head around and looked back and woke up.”

As he gets stronger in his own life, Kyle said he believes Ty is helping him along the way.

“Since Ty’s memorial ride I have had the younger generation of bull riders that have been contacting me and telling me how much of an inspiration Ty and I were on them when they were kids. I never knew that.”



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