LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - For a moment, Mike Mathis thought he might not make it to the 2013 rodeo season.
"Mr. Rodeo," the 30-year rodeo announcing veteran, underwent emergency heart surgery last October.
"The doctors even told me how close they came to putting dirt in my face," Mathis said. "It got pretty scary."
"Wound up with a three-way bypass, had some blockages that prevented me from getting the correct amount of oxygen and blood," he said.
Now, Mathis says he's feeling great and is excited to announce his favorite rodeo: the Angelina Benefit Rodeo on Wednesday.
"I love the sport, the comradery, the cowboys and what they do," he said. "You know there's nothing better to me than rodeo."
Mathis announces more than 45 rodeos across the country every year and his immense experience and rodeo expertise landed him a coveted spot in the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame.
"It was really amazing to be mentioned with the people that are already enshrined there," Mathis said. "I'm still questionable about what my name is doing in the pot but at any rate it was a tremendous honor."
"You know to be in there with those kind of guys, to look at that wall and see you know the legends that are there, to be inducted with some legends, it's exceptionally humbling," he said.
Mathis says the Angelina Rodeo holds a special place in his heart because East Texas is where his career as a professional rodeo announcer began.
The rodeo starts Wednesday and runs until Saturday.
The events start every night at 7 p.m. at the George H. Henderson Expo Center.