Luke Bryan’s siblings were two of the biggest influences in his life and his career and they undeniably made Luke Bryan the man that he is today.
Everyone in country music, or even those who just casually listen in, knows the name, Luke Bryan. He has established a well-grounded career in the genre – Luke Bryan songs not only won the popularity contest but also earned him stacks of awards and impressive sales. But behind that flashy, smashing success was a life full of tragic losses. As young as 19, Luke already experienced losing a brother. And while he was still struggling to deal with the death of his brother, his sister passed away.
Years after losing both of his siblings tragically, Luke shared that these are things you never truly get over. But thanks to the support of his family and fans, he is filled with gratitude more than pain. And every night, he would thank both of his siblings for looking after him and moving the puzzle pieces to somehow give him a fortunate life.
Chris and Kelly (and of course Luke) were all born in the rural land of Leesburg, Georgia, to peanut farmer parents, Tommy and LeClaire Bryan. Let’s get to know more about them, their lives, and how their deaths impacted the life of Luke.
The Bryans have always been a close-knit kind of family. Luke, who was 19 at the time, was just five days away from packing up and starting a whole new chapter of his life in Nashville. But all his plans went into a halt after Chris suffered a car accident.
It was 1996, and Chris Bryan was only 26 at the time. The close-knit family was rocked to the very core. After that, Luke knew that he couldn’t leave. He thought that his mother had just lost a son, and at that point, as the youngest son, he couldn’t just leave her. He stayed with them, finished his degree at Georgia Southern University, and eventually worked for his father’s fertilizer company. In a later interview, he shared that the death of his older brother Chris made him a little more mature.
Years had passed after Chris’ unfortunate passing when Luke’s father, Tommy, pushed him to pursue his own dreams. He told him that the company would always be there, but as for his youth, he would never get it back again once it passed. Tommy also added that it was the perfect time to chase his dreams because it was not that complicated as he still didn’t have a family. Though he had not been thinking too much about it, the decision came in easier once he got his father’s blessing.
But while it was Luke’s father who encouraged him to get back to chasing his dream, it was Chris who got him falling in love with country music in the first place. In an episode of his documentary My Dirt Road Diary, he recalled how Chris was a ginormous country music fan, and it was Chris’ experience at a Garth Brooks concert that inspired him. He hoped to be someone like Brooks and entertain people the same way.
His brother, though Luke may not share too many anecdotes about them growing up, was definitely one of the biggest influences of his life. And to celebrate the life he had lived and shared with his family, Luke wrote a song to honor his late brother and all the country songs they would have listened to together if he were still here.
After Luke arrived in Nashville in 2001, he was lucky enough to sign a publishing deal. And throughout that time, he was also able to make many trips back home and play with his band in college bars as well as different parties in Georgia. Three years later, he got signed by Capitol Records, and in 2007, he made his Grand Ole Opry debut. And during all that time, his sister Kelly was one of his biggest supporters. She even helped arrange everything so that over a hundred of his loyal fans would be able to witness his debut stage.
But one night, just a few weeks after his Opry debut, Kelly unexpectedly passed away at her home. She was with her then three-year-old Til in the living room when it happened. But what was even more heartbreaking for the family was the lack of closure. No one was able – not even the police or the coroner – could figure out what happened. Kelly left three kids, Jordan, Kris, and Til, with her husband, Ben Lee Cheshire.
And of course, Luke’s mother was one of the most impacted by Kelly’s death. Luke shared how he would receive random calls from her as she always misses his brother and sister. And she would also often want him to be around more because he was the only one she got left. But it seemed like the tragedies in their lives wouldn’t stop. Seven years later, Ben Cheshire died due to a heart attack leaving his three kids orphaned.
At that moment, Luke Bryan and his wife Caroline Boyer did not hesitate – even for a second – to take in the kids and raise them. While it was certainly an unfortunate event that left everyone in pain, it also showed the power and support of family.
These tragedies broke Luke’s heart, but at the same time, it also gave him the motivation to move forward.