SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Many kids around KELOLAND are enjoying their newly unwrapped Christmas presents, but one 13-year-old Sioux Falls boy only had one classic toy on his wish list; a toy that is now taking him to the world stage.
Since February of 2017, the Duffy family has become quite accustomed to continuous whirring of their son’s yo-yo.
“We wake up to it, its been like this for years,” Mom, Chanelle Duffy said.
“He got a free yo-yo at a Stampede game and decided he loved it,” Dad, Patrick Duffy said.
From there, the then 10-year-old Tyler Duffy decided the yo-yo could be put to good use.
“We were going to go on a missions trip to Africa and I wanted something to do for the Africans,” Tyler Duffy said.
His first ever yo-yo performances were in front of hundreds of children in Lesotho, Africa.
“So I just got into it and just kept pursuing it,” Tyler said.
His experience in that trip opening the door to a whole new passion.
“I carry this around wherever I go,” Tyler said.
From the Empire Mall to Target and at Zambro’s in downtown Sioux Falls, you may have seen some of Tyler’s skills around town, most of which were self taught.
“From Youtube, or just watching other yo-yoers on Instagram, you can just slow-mo stuff and figure out how they do it,” Tyler said.
Now after just two years of practicing nearly three hours a day, Tyler has become the one to watch.
“I have quite a bit of followers on Instagram, about 11,000 I think,” Tyler said. “Some of the videos got a million views.”
His biggest viral video was a 15 second clip taken by a stranger in a Minneapolis Target.
“We have more than eight million views from this viral video, we’ve been reached out to from several people, like the Ellen Show called and we got to interview with their producers,” Patrick Duffy said.
While Ellen hasn’t invited Tyler on her show quite yet, his talents are being recognized on another major stage. Since 2018, Tyler has been to four regional and national yo-yo competitions.
“Ty is definitely one of the top up and coming yo-yo players in the whole world. He was one of the youngest players to make it through the wild card round of the World yo-yo contest this year and he was named the National Junior Yo-yo champion in his age division,” Gentry Stein said.
That high praise coming from Ty’s new sponsor and mentor, the 2019 World yo-yo champion.
“Really that wow factor and stage presence is something that can really capture the audience and that’s something that is really hard to teach and Ty naturally has that,” Stein said.
But Ty’s parents say it hasn’t always been that way.
“The awesome thing to see is a kid that was, he’s a quiet kid, the nicest kid, but when he gets behind that yo-yo and he’s on stage it opens him up, its building more than just yo-yo skills, its life skills that he’s going to take with him forever,” Patrick Duffy said.
Skills ty hopes will also inspire others. He now wants to start a yo-yo club in Sioux Falls sometime in early 2020, hoping to share what he’s learned with others.
“You just keep practicing, just keep doing it, don’t stop,” Ty said.
With a little practice, and the right teacher, Ty says yo-yo is something people of all ages can enjoy.
“I want to share my talents and get other people into it,” Ty said.
Ty yo-yos so often, he wears gloves almost all the time to prevent string burn. He says he goes through at least one string a day and has used roughly 400 hundred yo-yo strings over the past two and a half years; practice he hopes will help lead him to his own world yo-yo championship some day.