Even if you aren’t a frequent listener to country music, you probably know who Luke Bryan is. He’s the good looking, always sincere singer with the evergreen smile.
But there’s a whole lot of pain and unbelievable tragedy behind that smile.
When Bryan was 19, his older brother Chris was killed in a car accident. Bryan put his Nashville dreams on hold so he could go to college and help his dad run the family peanut business. While other young men Bryan’s age would be bitter about giving up the bright lights of Nashville to stay home in Leesburg, Georgia, Bryan never questioned it.
“I was never convinced I’d get back to Nashville, but I didn’t spend time on ‘Should I go or should I not?’” Bryan told People Magazine. “It was just ‘Not going.’ Your mother had just lost a child. At that point, her youngest son was not going to leave the house. Chris’ dying got me a little more mature.”
But in 2001, Bryan did make it to Nashville, but it wasn’t long until tragedy struck again.
Sister Kelly, Luke, And Brother Chris
In 2007, shortly after Bryan released his debut album, his 39-year-old sister Kelly died unexpectedly at home while she was with her young son.
“The losses gave me such a deep perspective of life; how tough it can get at any second,” Bryan said. “You question it every day, but you have to revert back to your faith in God’s plan.”
To make matters worse, there is no closure for the Bryan family or for Kelly’s surviving son; her death was ruled undetermined.
“They never determined what happened. The autopsies, the coroner, no one could figure it out,” Bryan said. “My only older siblings … gone from the world, in a flash in two, two different, crazy, tragic manners, that … we’ll never know, and never understand. I don’t like that my sons are missing that side of my family. But someone else is deciding things.”
Luke And Kelly At His Grand Ole Opry Debut
Bryan and his wife Caroline, who have two little boys of their own, grew their family by one in 2015 because tragedy struck the Bryan family yet again.
In late 2014, Bryan’s brother-in-law and Kelly’s husband, Ben Lee Cheshire, died at age 46, orphaning three children. Like Kelly, Ben passed away unexpectedly and without cause.
So Luke and Caroline took in his then 13-year-old nephew (Kelly and Ben’s daughters are older, but visit often).
How does he get through it all and still remain a devoted husband, father, and worldwide superstar?
“If me telling my story moves people down a positive path of hope and getting up out of the bed and getting back going, then it’s certainly worth telling,” Bryan explained.