Luke Bryan Cancels His CMT Artist of the Year Appearance After Another Family Tragedy

The country star sticks with his family following the death of his brother-in-law


Amid one of the biggest years of his career, Luke Bryan is grieving another family loss with the death of his brother-in-law.

The country star, who was named CMA Entertainer of the Year last month, was due to perform and be honored on Tuesday night’s live CMT Artists of the Year show, but his publicist tells PEOPLE that he will remain with family in Georgia instead.

Bryan’s brother-in-law, Ben Lee Cheshire, known to the family as Lee, died Saturday at age 46. Cheshire was the widowed husband of Luke’s only sister, Kelly, who died suddenly in 2007 when she was 39. The couple had three children, who are now teenagers.

The death of his sister left a particularly deep mark on the singer since it followed the loss of his only brother, who was killed in a car accident 11 years earlier at the age of 26.

“Losing my brother changed me tremendously and losing Kelly, even more,” Bryan told PEOPLE Country last year. “I literally do not take one second for granted.”

Following those losses he and his family looked to their faith for support. “Your faith has to get you through all that,” Bryan said. “That’s not saying you don’t question it. But you just have to revert back to your faith in God’s plan, that you’ll be together again and that’s what you have to go on.

Even after the death of Bryan’s sister, Cheshire remained close to the singer’s family, and he was among the circle of family and friends with Bryan in Las Vegas when he celebrated his emotional ACM Entertainer of the Year win last year.

According to a statement from CMT, which will air the CMT Artists of the Year special live Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET, Bryan’s segment of the show will go on, despite the AOTY’s absence. “We are going to honor Luke in absentia and will recognize him in only the best way we know how – out of respect for him and his family,” a CMT rep tells PEOPLE.

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