Luke Bryan is more than just a country star and American Idol judge. He’s also a loving parent, husband, and uncle.
In 2014, Luke began raising his sister’s son and daughters after tragedy struck the family.
Luke’s sister, Kelly, passed away from unknown causes in 2007 while she was at home with her then-toddler son. Her husband, Ben, went on to raise their three kids, son Til and daughters Kris and Jordan.
“They never determined what happened [to Kelly]. The autopsies, the coroner, no one could figure it out,” Luke told People in 2013. Sadly, in 2014, Ben also died suddenly; he was in a car accident.
Til was 16 then, while Kris and Jordan were both college-aged. Luke and Caroline immediately decided to take all three of them in as their own.
“We never thought twice about it,” Caroline told ABC in 2017.
And just like that, Til moved to live with the family in Nashville.
“I woke up one day and I’m raising a teen,” Luke said.
The experience has been a “challenge,” but given the circumstances, it’s also been really positive — and the family wouldn’t have it any other way.
Luke Bryan grew up with two siblings, a brother and a sister, in rural Georgia. Sadly, the star’s family has endured multiple tragedies over the course of his life.
In 2000, when Luke was a teen, his brother Chris died in a car accident. Seven years later, sister Kelly died unexpectedly of unknown causes, leaving her husband Ben to care for their three children.
After losing both of his siblings and starting his music career in Nashville, Luke married his college sweetheart, Caroline. The two have been married for 11 years now, and they share two children of their own: Thomas Boyer, aka “Bo,” 11, and Tatum Christopher, 8.
But in 2014, another devastating loss struck the family. Luke’s brother-in-law, Ben, also died, leaving his son and two daughters orphaned.
At the time, Til Cheshire was 16 years old. Kris was 19, and Jordan was 22.
Caroline says there was never any question of what she and Luke would do — they took in the three kids as their own.
“We never thought twice about it,” she told ABC in 2017. “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.”
It was a major adjustment for the entire family, though. Til came to live with Luke, Caroline, and their two sons in Nashville.
“I woke up one day and I’m raising a teen,” Luke previously told People. “And it’s a challenge because my main thing with Til is just properly giving the right amount of advice and realizing you’re talking to someone who is becoming an adult.”
He described the balance of strictness and friendliness that he tries to maintain with Til.
“I have to be that parent role where if he does something, he needs to get in trouble, but I want to be a friend to him too,” he explained.
“We’re buddies now, though, kinda,” Luke told ABC. “Until he makes me… That’s when I get onto him, I’m like, ‘All right, you’re making me be an adult; don’t make me be an adult!’”
Indeed, parenting a teenager is a lot different from parenting a younger child. There’s social media access, for one thing.
“We’re having to watch grades and watch Instagram and Snapchat and keep him from being on that all day long,” Luke said to People.
But overall, the blended family has made the best out of a really horrible situation.
“Obviously my nieces and nephew, they didn’t ask for this,” Luke told People in 2015.
“You don’t want to sound like you love having them so much that you’re glad it’s the situation, but we’re honored to be doing what we feel was the right thing,” he added to Billboard.
Luke described him and Til as “buddies.” He also said that his younger sons get to look up to Til and learn from him — including all the cool new viral dances.
“The Dab and all that. And the Nae Nae. He teaches them all that,” he said to People. “They’re out there in the yard doing that when they score a touchdown.”
The boys also go fishing together and play board games. Last year, Luke featured all three boys in the music video for “What Makes You Country.”
Luke admitted to ABC that sometimes he and his family “get mad at why this has happened” — and with so many tragedies throughout the years, who can blame them?
But they try to stay positive through it all, and they’ve built a resilient family life for these kids.
“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,” Luke told ABC. “You just have to plow on and play the hand that’s dealt.”