Luke Bryan’s siblings met their unexpected deaths too early for anyone in the close-knit family to process, especially Luke, who was just 19 when the first tragic loss happened.
The First Heartbreak
Back in 1996, Luke Bryan was preparing to move to Nashville and he already even had his apartment lined up. But devastating news of the death of his older brother Chris threw him out of the excitement of chasing his dreams. Chris, who was 26 at the time, was killed in a car accident.
In a 2013 interview with ABC News, Luke confessed that he still hyperventilated whenever the topic of his brother’s death was brought up. He also shared that one can never truly move beyond that kind of loss. And in a 2017 interview with Sunday Today With Willie Geist, Luke also revealed that Chris’ death totally rocked their family’s world and his own.
That prompted him to delay his move, put his career on hold, and finish his college degree at Georgia Southern University, where he first met Caroline Boyer, who is now his wife. After graduation, he went to work for his father’s fertilizer company.
He also couldn’t bear leaving his family in Leesburg, Georgia and was never convinced that he would ever get back to Nashville. It wasn’t even a question for him if he should be going or not because the obvious answer was not to go. His mother had just lost a son and at that point, as the youngest son, leaving was not an option. Luke also shared that Chris’ death also made him a bit more mature.
Pursuing his dream as a musician
After some years passed, his father eventually pushed him to pursue his own dream. He told Luke that the fertilizer company would always be there, but he would never get his youth back again. He also said that chasing his dreams was not a complicated decision at that time. Luke confessed that his father’s blessing made everything easier.
He learned through that tragic loss how to really appreciate chasing dreams, and he had this only one go-round in life, so he better go after his dreams. So in 2001, he finally moved to Nashville. He started his career writing songs for Travis Tritt and playing his own songs in bars at night. In 2004, he was offered a record deal by Capitol Records thanks to an established fanbase.
Then it was in April 2007 where he made his Grand Ole Opry debut, and his sister Kelly helped arrange hundreds of fans to be able to watch his debut. At that point, everything was okay.
The Second Tragedy
Just a month after Luke’s debut, his sister Kelly suddenly passed away at her home. In a 2013 interview with PEOPLE, Luke shared that no one, not even the autopsies and the coroner, could figure out what happened to her. Until now, they haven’t had an answer to the mystery.
Speaking with Billboard, Luke also reflected how her late sister’s death impacted his mother. According to him, it forever altered his mother’s belief systems. Oftentimes, he would receive a random call from her when she was having a bad day. She would miss Chris one day and then Kelly the other day. And she also wanted to be around him more because he was the only one she got left.
Seven years later, Ben Lee Cheshire, Kelly’s husband, died due to a heart attack leaving all of their three children without a parent. Luke and his wife, Caroline Boyer, took all three kids and adopted them. Now, the family of the four became a family of seven.
Luke Bryan’s siblings had a special place in his heart. On November 6, 2013, Bryan performed his song Drink A Beer from his fourth studio album, Crash My Party, at the CMA Awards with the song’s co-writer Chris Stapleton as tribute to his late siblings.
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