Granger Smith's 3-year-old son River tragically died in a drowning accident earlier this month

By Helen Murphy
June 26, 2019 11:52 AM

Granger Smith is honoring his late son River.

Over the weekend, the 39-year-old country musician debuted a new tattoo while making his emotional return to the stage at the Country LakeShake music festival in Chicago on Sunday.

The tattoo consists of the name “River” written in large black script across Smith’s right forearm, paying tribute to his 3-year-old son who died earlier this month.

Smith’s rep confirmed to PEOPLE on June 6 that River’s tragic death was due to a drowning accident at home. That same day, the country singer shared the “unthinkable” news on Twitter and Instagram, revealing “despite doctor’s best efforts, he was unable to be revived.” River was laid to rest on June 11.

Smith also showed off the tattoo on Tuesday while presenting a check for $218,791 to Dell Children’s Medical Center, where River received medical attention before his death.

“Let this be a small token of the gratitude that we’ve got for you guys,” he said of the donation.

Granger Smith
Daniel DeSlover/ZUMA Wire
Granger Smith
Rick Kern/Getty

RELATED: Granger Smith Emotionally Returns to the Stage Following the Death of His 3-Year-Old Son River

The country star hit the stage smiling on Sunday for his first performance since River’s death. He started out his set by singing “Blue Collar Dollars” while hitting his heart and mouthing the words “Thank you” during every lyrical break.

At one point during his emotional performance, Smith brought things to a quieter tone by grabbing a stool and taking it to the end of the stage. “I love this show and I love you guys for being here,” he told the crowd. He then gazed up into the sky, and started to sing the somber “Heaven Bound Balloons.”

Granger Smith
RMV/Shutterstock
Granger Smith with Amber and their children
Granger Smith/Instagram

Before his performance on Sunday, Smith’s wife Amber shared a loving message to River on Instagram after their family visited a museum in Chicago.

“Getting back on the road and back into daily life without River has not been easy in the slightest,” she said. “Every single thing reminds me of him, and all I can think about is how he would love exploring and seeing all that we are seeing. I see his name everywhere, I see little red-headed toddlers everywhere. I miss his silly personality and his bright light.”

RELATED: Granger Smith Donates Over $200,000 to Dell Children’s Medical Center in Honor of Late Son River

Amber added, “I look around at everyone else and wonder if anyone is going through something like we are. Dumb little things don’t matter anymore. My family does. My faith does. We’ve got this because God’s got us. Thank you all for your continued support, prayers and love. It really does help us so much. #livelikeriv.”

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