Luke Bryan keeps a breezy demeanor that belies his history. The permanent grin etched on his face is a choice, as he says he prefers to emphasize the positives of life rather than the negatives. And he’s had plenty of those.
Bryan lost his brother, Chris, when he was a teenager in a car accident. This was only a day before he was supposed to move to Nashville. After putting his dreams on hold for several years, he finally worked up the nerve to go to Music City. Then, just as his career was starting to gain momentum, his sister, Kelly, died unexpectedly in 2007.
In 2014, Kelly’s husband Lee died from a heart attack, leaving behind three children. Luke Bryan and his wife, Caroline, stepped up and took a bigger role in the lives of his nieces, Kris and Jordan, and adopted their nephew, Til.
“Obviously my nieces and nephew, they didn’t ask for this,” Bryan told PEOPLE magazine in 2015, shortly after Lee’s death. “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.”
Bryan is laying his life bare in the new IMDb TV series Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary. And docu-series, which is streaming now for free, features interviews with Lee and footage from those early days after his death. Bryan said he worries what they’ll think of it.
“That will be the most tense part about having this out, is just watching them react,” Bryan told Taste of Country.
But Bryan is hopeful that they’ll be happy to see rare videos and relive those.
“I think they just are going to love seeing their parents; seeing footage,” the American Idol judge told the website.
Luke Bryan: You Can’t Replace Father-Son Bond
Til was only 13 and very close to his dad when, Lee, died. Bryan adopted Til after Lee’s death, but he knew he couldn’t replace his father.
“Nobody had a better father-son bond than Til and his dad,” Bryan said.
So, instead, he focused on honoring Lee’s memory. And the now-adult Til and his two older sisters find ways to honor their parents. Til posted a tribute to his dad on Instagram on Lee’s birthday last year. And he honored his mom as well.
“That’s just an amazing thing that they do, that they still honor them,” Bryan told Taste of Country. “All of the children really do a good job at handling their emotions of what they’ve been through.”
Bryan also does little things to remember those he’s lost in his life. His new single, “Songs You Never Heard,” is an ode to his late brother, Chris.