11:15pm PT by Katie Atkinson, Billboard
Luke Bryan Hits ACCA Stage After Brother-in-Law's Death: "It's Nice to Feel Loved"
It's been a roller-coaster month for Luke Bryan. At last month's American Music Awards, he was named favorite male country artist, but only a week later his brother-in-law, Ben Lee Cheshire, died. Cheshire was married to Bryan's sister Kelly, who died in 2007 at age 39.
Bryan made the choice to skip the CMA Artists of the Year special on Dec. 2 to be with his family, but on Monday (Dec. 15), he hit the stage for the inaugural American Country Countdown Awards and thanked his fans and fellow artists for their support.
"I want to get serious just for a second," he said, accepting the prize for male vocalist of the year. "I wanna thank all of my fans for the last couple of weeks in my life, for keeping my family in your prayers. And I wanna also recognize the country music community, all the artists. Fans, let me explain something to you: You guys support wonderful artists, because they have rallied around me and helped me and my family through the last couple of weeks. It's just nice to feel loved in a situation [like that]. Just thank you guys for an amazing 2014."
Bryan collected his award after performing "Roller Coaster" alongside the song's writer, Cole Swindell. At the CMT Artists of the Year special, Lady Antebellum and Chris Stapleton performed the hit song "Drink a Beer," which Bryan dedicates to late sister Kelly and his late brother Chris, who died at age 19.
The American Country Countdown Awards are produced by Dick Clark Productions, a sister company of The Hollywood Reporter.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.