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Toby Keith's three children tear up as they support late dad during tribute at CMT Awards

The late country star shared three children with wife Tricia Lucus

Musician Toby Keith accepts the Artist of the Decade Award onstage at the American Country Awards 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 5, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
8 April 2024
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It was an emotional night for country music fans at the 2024 CMT Music Awards as the show dedicated an entire segment to honor one of their own, that being Toby Keith.

The country star passed away on February 5 at the age of 62 following a battle with stomach cancer, and his family and children are honoring his legacy.

Keith's three children with wife Tricia Lucus, Shelley, Krystal, and Stelen, were all in attendance at the ceremony to honor their late father.

Singer Toby Keith attends the 2016 American Country Countdown Awards at The Forum on May 1, 2016 in Inglewood, California.© Getty Images
Toby Keith was honored with a tribute at the 2024 CMT Music Awards

The show kicked things off with introductions courtesy of Roger Clemens, Lukas Nelson, and Riley Green, leading into performances from Brooks & Dunn, Sammy Hagar, and Lainey Wilson.

While the show was a tear-jerker for Shelley, Krystal, and Stelen, who were seen wiping away tears during cuts to the audience, the song selections of "Should've Been a Cowboy," "I Love This Bar," and "How Do You Like Me Now?!" made for a rousing time, with the three also spotted dancing and loudly singing to their late dad's hits.

At the end, Roger returned to the stage to honor them, saying: "Thank you for sharing your dad with all of us," which left them choked up as they wiped away the tears.

Krystal Sandubrae, Shelley Covel and Stelen Covel attend the 2024 CMT Music Awards at Moody Center on April 07, 2024 in Austin, Texas.© Getty Images
The country star's three children made a rare appearance to support their dad

Roger barely stopped the emotion from taking over his voice as he turned to the camera and addressed Tricia, who couldn't be there. "Trish, we love you. Thank you for sharing your husband with the world, thank you!"

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The crowd honored Keith with red solo cups, a nod to his popular 2011 track of the same name, as Roger got the room to join him in a toast to the late country legend. He recited: "Let Toby hear ya! 'Whiskey for my men, and beer for my horses.'"

Roger Clemens speaks onstage at the 2024 CMT Music Awards held at the Moody Center on April 7, 2024 in Austin, Texas.© Getty Images
Roger Clemens led the tributes to the late musician

Kelsea Ballerini hosted the ceremony for the fourth year in a row, with other performers including Cody Johnson, Jelly Roll, Keith Urban, Lainey Wilson, Sam Hunt, Little Big Town, and Kelsea herself.

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A statement on his Instagram and website read: "Toby Keith passed peacefully last night on February 5th, surrounded by his family. He fought his fight with grace and courage. Please respect the privacy of his family at this time."

Sammy Hagar performs onstage during the 2024 CMT Music Awards at Moody Center on April 07, 2024 in Austin, Texas.© Getty Images
Sammy Hagar, Brooks & Dunn, and Lainey Wilson performed the tribute

The country musician died after being diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2022, which he had described during an appearance at the People's Choice Country Awards as "a little bit of a roller coaster. You get good days and, you know, you're up and down, up and down."

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Keith was first diagnosed with cancer in 2021 and told fans about his illness in an emotional Instagram post. He wrote at the time: "I've spent the last six months receiving chemo, radiation and surgery. So far, so good. I need time to breathe, recover and relax." 

Ronnie Dunn, Sammy Hagar, Kix Brooks, Lainey Wilson, Riley Green and Roger Clemens appear onstage during the 2024 CMT Music Awards at Moody Center on April 07, 2024 in Austin, Texas.© Getty Images
The tribute ended with a red solo cup raise in Keith's honor

It continued: "I am looking forward to spending this time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can't wait." 

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