Lifestyle & Human Interest

Luke Bryan on Raising Late Sister's Children: 'You Have to Really Hold True That It Was God's Plan'


You may know Luke Bryan from his various country party hits.

Even though the country heartthrob has seen incredible success over the past 12 years, his humble beginnings as a worker on his family’s peanut farm in Georgia — and the heartbreaking moments that followed — continue to impact his life each and every day.

When he was only 19 years old, Bryan was preparing to leave the small town of Leesburg, Georgia, and was just days away from pursuing his music career in Nashville when his older brother Chris suddenly died in a car accident.

Recognizing how much the loss impacted his parents, Bryan knew he couldn’t leave.

Instead he enrolled in Georgia Southern University where he met his wife, Caroline, who he married in 2006.

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After graduating college, Bryan stayed in Leesburg and worked for his father until 2001 when his father encouraged him to finally move to Nashville.

In an interview with “20/20,” Tommy Bryan recalled telling his son, “You know, if you’re going to pursue your music career, you need to pack your truck up and move to Nashville.”

Six years after moving to Nashville, Bryan released his first album and was invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry for the first time.

His older sister, Kelly, was so excited for her little brother that she organized 129 people from their small town to watch his debut show at the iconic stage.

That would be the last time Bryan saw his sister before her untimely death.

The 39-year-old mother of three was washing laundry in her home when she passed away in 2007. Despite several autopsies, medical professionals were never able to determine the cause of death.

“Losing my brother changed me tremendously and losing Kelly, even more,” Bryan told People. “I literally do not take one second for granted.”

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Kelly’s three children — Jordan, Kris and Til (short for Tilden) — continued to live with their father, Ben Lee Cheshire, as they all grieved their loss.

Seven years later, however, Ben also passed away; he was only 46 years old.

Luke Bryan and Caroline didn’t hesitate to agree to become the guardians of their two nieces and nephew, now 24, 20, and 17 years old, respectively.

“We never thought twice about it,” Caroline told Country Living. “You know, it was never something that he and I had to sit down and talk about, you know, should we take this on? We just did it.”

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Merry Christmas from the Griswold’s….???

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Over the past 13 years, the county music star has learned how to navigate through grief and shares his story in hopes of helping others navigate through their own.

“I’ve watched my family go through ebbs and flows where we get mad at God and we get mad at why this has happened,” Bryan said. “Well, you keep going and you try to, try to be as positive as you can, and you try to appreciate every day.”

Despite the uncertainty, Bryan has continued to hold on to his faith and trusts that the Lord is working everything together for good.

He told Today, “You’ve got to lean on your faith and understand that you have to really hold true that it was God’s plan.”

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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