"Like a wheel, sometimes I'm on the bottom of the wheel, sometimes I'm on top of the wheel," Desormeaux said.
This Saturday, Desormeaux's career could come full-circle. Immortality awaits at the Belmont Stakes, CBS News' Debbye Turner reports.
But this is not the first time he's been here. Ten years ago he missed the Triple Crown by a nose.
"That was like swallowing a spoon sideways," he said. "It just was gut-wrenching."
In an instant, a jockey can lose everything. Even his life.
"I got the phone call that said, 'your husband's not going to make it through the night,'" Desormeaux's wife, Sonia, said.
The accident still shakes his wife, who is also his high school sweetheart.
"Every day, it's a question of safety and will things go well and … will he come home," she said.
He's fallen from grace, too. Desormeaux was once difficult and cocky.
"I started getting sour. I started getting mouthy," he said.
"You walk into a barn and guys are like, 'oh no, here comes Desormeaux," he said.
In the midst of a professional slump, a personal challenge.
His youngest son was born with a rare genetic disorder called Usher Syndrome. Now nine years old, Jacob Desormeaux is deaf and will probably be blind by adulthood. But in the Desormeaux "circle of life," the child has taught his parents.
"The little things we take for granted, he makes us stop and notice those things because he does it himself,'" Sonia Desormeaux said.
"Because of Jacob, I go out there and I give all I got. I give you my best," Kent Desormeaux said.
"My dad won the Kentucky and the Preakness with Big Brown!" Jacob said.
"And what do you think is going to happen Saturday, you think he's going to win the Triple Crown?" Turner asked.
"Yep!" Jacob said.
And there's no doubt Kent Desormeaux's son will be with him, in his heart, when Big Brown makes his run at history.
"If we do accomplish this goal and he may lose his sight," Desormeaux said. "He will never, ever forget the images of that day, of this whole run. Hopefully he'll be able to remember it and hopefully find joy and get him thru the hard days."