Chris Cornell Wins Posthumous Grammy Award - and His Kids Accept on His Behalf
Cornell, who died by suicide in May 2017, was honored with a posthumous award in the best rock performance category for “When Bad Does Good.”
To celebrate the win, Cornell’s widow Vicky Cornell and daughter Toni, 14, and son Christopher, 13, walked the red carpet together on Sunday night. Toni paid homage to her dad by wearing a shirt with a photo of him on it.
The late rocker was also a father to daughter Lily, 18.
His two youngest children accepted the award on their father’s behalf. “It was very difficult because, obviously, we miss him so much and we saw him work on this so hard – he was always working on it music [because] it was his passion,” Toni told reporters backstage. “It was really sad in a way to feel like he couldn’t be there himself to accept it for something that he was so proud of and worked so hard on. Again, we’re so proud of him and it was amazing.”
Toni also noted that they were moved by the tribute concert for their father earlier this year, which featured performers and attendees including Miley Cyrus, Brad Pitt and Adam Levine. “I mean, it was amazing. I loved every single person who performed. It just really showed who he was and I love that.”
Added Christopher, “I agree with mostly everything she says. It was just beautiful to watch. The amazing people that came and helped perform – it was beautiful.”
Recording Academy President Neil Portnow told PEOPLE prior to announcing the nominees that their voting process makes it possible to honor artists that have recently died since they “are really looking at the music that gets made and released in any given year.”
“Sadly, sometimes we lose some of those artists for one reason or another,” Portnow, 70, said. “Sometimes, sadly, that is just going to happen.”
Be sure to check out PEOPLE’s full Grammys coverage to get the latest news on music’s biggest night.
While Cornell’s death was ruled a suicide, his family has stated that they didn’t believe Cornell to be suicidal. Vicky said she believes that the side effects of the prescription drug Ativan — which can cause worsening depression and thoughts of self-harm in rare cases — may have impacted Cornell.
A month after his death, the rocker’s wife opened up to PEOPLE exclusively about her husband’s addiction and death.
“My Chris was happy, loving, caring and warm,” she said. “This was not a depressed man — it wasn’t like I missed that. What I missed were the signs of addiction.” Vicky believes that if her husband had not relapsed on drugs that night, he would not have died.
WATCH: Chris Cornell’s Widow Vicky Meets with Detroit Medical Examiner Four Months After Rocker’s Death
“He didn’t want to die,” she said of Cornell, who was prescribed Ativan as a sleep aid but doubled his dose the night of his death. “If he was of sound mind, I know he wouldn’t have done this… Addiction is a disease. That disease can take over you and has full power.”
The 61st Annual Grammy Awards are broadcasting live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT on CBS.