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Luke Bryan on His Brother’s Death: ‘It Makes You Appreciate Chasing Dreams’

As country music fans know, Luke Bryan has experienced more than his fair share of tragedies in his life: The country superstar lost his brother Chris in a car accident in 1996, and his sister Kelly unexpectedly passed away in 2007. In 2014, Bryan’s brother-in-law Ben (Kelly’s widower) died just after Thanksgiving, and earlier this year, his wife Caroline’s brother and sister-in-law lost their infant niece. In a new interview, Bryan says that moments like those have made him even more driven to succeed.

Bryan tells NBC’s Willie Geist that, specifically, his brother’s death — which happened when Bryan was just 19 years old and “fixin’ to chase my dream” — “just totally rocked our family’s world, rocked my world.”

“It makes you appreciate chasin’ dreams, you know?” Bryan continues. “You’re like, hey, you get one go-round at this thing called life, and it’s very fragile, so you’d better go after your dream.”

Following the car accident that killed Chris, which occurred in November of 1996, Bryan — who was mere days away from packing up his stuff in his hometown of Leesburg, Ga., and moving to Nashville — immediately canceled his plans. Bryan stayed in Georgia five more years, until his father convinced him to make the move to Music City. It was as Bryan’s debut album, I’ll Stay Me, was climbing the charts that his sister Kelly died unexpectedly, at the age of 39, in 2007.

Following his brother-in-law Ben’s death a few years ago, Bryan and his wife welcomed Ben and Kelly’s son Til, their nephew, into their family (Til’s sisters, Bryan and Caroline’s two nieces, are both old enough to be on their own). Bryan and Caroline have two sons of their own, Bo and Tate, and although taking in a teenager has not been easy, the couple is focused on staying positive and trucking through the difficulties.

“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,” Bryan says. “You just have to plow on and play the hand that’s dealt.”

Bryan’s full interview with Geist will air on Sunday Today With Willie Geist on Sunday (April 2). That night, Bryan will co-host the 2017 ACM Awards with Dierks Bentley; the awards show will air live from Las Vegas, Nev., on CBS, beginning at 8PM ET.

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