James was one of only five left-handers ever to compete in the National Finals Rodeo.
He was born and raised in Harper, Texas where he began calf roping and steer wrestling at a young age. He won the all-around buckle from the American Junior Rodeo Association in steer wrestling and calf roping in 1980 and was National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Champion Calf Roper and average winner in 1982.
James went on to become PRCA Rookie of the Year in 1983 for calf roping. He was a National Finals Rodeo qualifier in 1987-1988, 1990, and 1995. He qualified fourteen times for the Circuit Finals and won the Texas Circuit championship in 1983 and 1995. In 1988, he was the Houston champion.
James lives in Shiner, Texas.