“When Chris passed away I was 19 years old, fixin’ to chase my dream,” Bryan, now 40, tells Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist in a new interview. “It just totally rocked our family’s world, rocked my world.”
Of Chris’ early death, Bryan says, “It makes you appreciate chasing dreams, you know. You’re like, ‘Hey you get one go-round at this thing called life and it’s very fragile, so you better go after your dreams.’ “
Bryan’s life has been rocked by tragedy in recent years as well. His sister, Kelly died suddenly in 2007, followed by her husband in 2014, leaving the couple’s three children without parents. Bryan and his wife, Caroline, stepped in to help raise nephew Til, and nieces Kris and Jordan alongside their own two boys, Bo, 9, and Tate, 6. And in late February, Bryan’s infant niece on Caroline’s side passed away after battling health issues.
Reflecting he told PEOPLE in 2015, “I think with everything that’s happened in my family, I just have to lean on my faith and the understanding that God has a plan for all of us. We just wake up every day and do our best. I’ll get down in the dumps, and then I’ll meet a Make-A-Wish kid, and I’ll ask myself, ‘What are you complaining about?’ You just have to keep your faith strong and rock on.”
Watch Bryan’s full interview on Sunday. Check local NBC listings for Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist. The ACM Awards will broadcast live on Sunday from 8-11 p.m. ET on CBS Television Network.