Luke Bryan may be renowned as one of the contemporary country scene’s biggest party boys. But in fact he’s very much a family man at heart. And the singer-songwriter proved it following a double tragedy, making a decision that would change his life forever. Here’s a look at his heart-warming story.
Born in Leesburg, Georgia, in 1976, Luke Bryan studied business administration at college before heading to Nashville to pursue his musical ambitions. He first achieved success as a songwriter, penning Travis Tritt’s “My Honky Tonk History” and Billy Currington’s Hot Country Songs chart-topper “Good Directions.” And in 2007 Bryan penned his very own contract with Capitol Nashville.
Bryan’s first single, “All My Friends Say,” peaked at number five in the country chart and was followed by parent album, I’ll Stay Me. The star wrote ten of its 11 tracks including his second top ten hit, “Country Man.” Then, in 2009 Bryan began exploring the hedonistic country sound that would become his trademark on the Spring Break with All My Friends EP.
Bryan’s sophomore album Doin’ My Thing, released in 2010, gave him his first chart-topping single, “Rain is a Good Thing,” and then a second, “Someone Else Calling You Baby.” The following year’s Tailgates and Tanlines saw Bryan top the U.S. Country Album charts for the first time and spawned three more number ones. The singer then reached pole position on the Billboard 200 in 2013 with compilation Spring Break… Here to Party.
Crash My Party saw Bryan top the Billboard 200 again later in 2013, while with 2015’s Kill the Lights he became the first ever artist to score six chart-topping country singles from the same album. Two years later the star ventured into television as one of the judges on the rebooted American Idol. And that same year Bryan scored his fourth number one on the Billboard 200 with What Makes You Country.
As well as being a record-breaking chart star and Spring Break favorite, Luke Bryan is also known as one of country music’s nice guys. He’s given his time and money to numerous charities including the Red Cross and City of Hope, as well as causes relating to human rights and children’s disaster relief. But it’s at home where Bryan has really shown how altruistic he is.
In 2007 – just days after attending Bryan’s Grand Ole Opry debut – the singer’s older sister Kelly passed away suddenly at home. And this wasn’t the first time that the country singer had had to deal with the unexpected death of a sibling. While preparing to move to Nashville in his late teens, Bryan had lost his older brother Chris in a motor-vehicle crash.
And seven years after Kelly’s death, her widower Ben also passed away. This double tragedy left their three children – Til, Kris and Jordan – without any living parents. However, along with his wife of eight years Caroline Boyer, Bryan decided that he would become their new guardian.
Bryan already had two sons, Bo and Tate, from his marriage to Boyer, whom he first encountered when they were both studying at Georgia Southern University. Boyer later told People magazine that the decision was a no-brainer. “You know, it was never something that he and I had to sit down and talk about. ‘Should we take this on?’ We just did that,” she said.
In 2015 Bryan told People that his new family commitments were far more important than his music career. “Obviously my nieces and nephew, they didn’t ask for this,” he said. “Their life was amazing before Caroline and I took a more prominent role, even after losing their mother. Now my focus is trying to do what we can to help them.”
But Bryan also admitted to Billboard that he and Boyer had to pull off a tricky balancing act. “You don’t want to sound like you love having them so much that you’re glad it’s the situation,” he explained. “But we’re honored to be doing what we feel was the right thing.”
Although Kris and Jordan were of college age at the time, Kelly and Ben’s youngest child Til was only in his early teens and so moved in with the Bryan family in Nashville. “We woke up and had a teenager in our midst, but we love it. It’s nothing but positive,” the country star told People magazine in 2016.
However, Bryan also admitted that raising a teen earlier than expected still tested his parenting skills. “It’s interesting because he’ll be a boy one minute and he’ll act like a man the next,” Bryan explained. “So you just try to help him make good decisions and study hard and be respectful and try to do your best to raise them right.”
Bryan also revealed that his sons had adapted well to living with their cousin. “Bo went from being kind of the alpha male to being the middle child, but he takes it in stride,” Bryan said. “It’s been amazing watching them do so well with it. They treat Til like their brother, and Til does the same.”
And Til’s arrival has also helped Bryan’s sons out when it comes to the sporting field. ““They’re becoming better athletes ‘cause Til gets to play with them,” said the singer. “When I come home, they’re throwing the baseball a little farther and hitting the ball a little harder. I know that’s ’cause Til’s been out in the yard with them.”
A year later the singer admitted to People that the Bryan household was in a constant state of chaos. “They always have seven or eight of their friends over. Our furniture is constantly getting broken and damaged, but we try not to think about it too much,” he said. “It’s just life at the Bryans. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Bryan went on to discuss why he’s so happy with this constant bedlam. He said, “With young children, there are a hundred moments a day when you want to slow it down and seize the moment.” Indeed, the star even referenced the subject on his 2016 single “Fast.”
“I just have to lean on my faith and the understanding that God has a plan for all of us,” Bryan said. “We just wake up every day and do our best. I’ll get down in the dumps, and then I’ll meet a Make-A-Wish kid, and I’ll ask myself, ‘What are you complaining about?’”
Bryan told ABC News in 2015 that he hopes to serve as a role model for anyone who has found themselves in a similar situation. “We feel like if we just stay positive through this, maybe we’ll be a positive inspiration for people that had these things happen to ’em,” he said. “You just have to plow on and play the hand that’s dealt.”
During an interview with Big 95.5 Chicago in 2018, Bryan stated that family communication is the key to juggling his many responsibilities. “There are a lot of moving parts. You knock it out of the park some days,” he said. “And other days, I try to sneak in a hunting trip and I kinda know it’s not the thing I should have done.”