TobyMac Pays Tribute to Late Son Truett McKeehan: ‘He Had a Grand Personality and Dreams to Match’
"He was a magnetic son and brother and friend. If you met him you knew him, you remembered him,” TobyMac told PEOPLE in a statement
Christian rapper TobyMac is remembering his son Truett Foster McKeehan, who died suddenly on Wednesday at his Tennessee home at the age of 21.
“Truett Foster McKeehan had joy that took the room when he entered. He was a magnetic son and brother and friend. If you met him you knew him, you remembered him,” TobyMac wrote in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “His smile, his laugh, the encouragement he offered with words or even without. He had an untamable grand personality and dreams to match. And he hated being put in a box.”
TobyMac (born Kevin McKeehan), went on to praise his son’s musical talents, calling him a “true artist.”
“He expressed himself through the music he made. And by made I mean, written, recorded, produced, mixed, and designed the art. All of it. A true artist,” the rapper added, before reflecting on his son’s first show a week ago, which was “nothing short of electric.”
“Everyone felt it, everyone knew it. He could’ve easily taken the easy route and put music out when he was 12, 14, 16, even 18, but he always said he wanted to live some life and have something to say before he did it. He didn’t want to be a child star, he wanted to be a man with scars and a story to tell. I always admired, respected and encouraged that stand,” he continued.
An aspiring rapper, McKeehan released music on various platforms under the names TRU, Shiloh and Truett Foster. Over the years he also joined forces with his father on several tracks.
Like his father, religion played an important part in McKeehan’s life, although he was not a “cookie-cutter Christian.”
“Truett always had a soft spot for God. The Bible moved him. His heart was warm to the things of his King,” TobyMac wrote. “He was by no means a cookie-cutter Christian but give me a believer who fights to keep believing. Give me a broken man who recognizes his need for a Savior every time. That’s who Truett was and how he should be remembered.”
The rapper went on to reflect in-depth on the last moment he shared with his son while attending his concert at the Factory in Franklin, Tennessee last Thursday.
“I had to leave the next morning very early to fly and start our Canadian tour. As I stood in the audience and watched my son bring joy to a room, I was as proud as a ‘pop’ (as tru called me) could be,” he noted. “It was the culminating moment of a dream that he had since he was 12. It couldn’t have been sweeter. Our music, and what we say lyrically couldn’t be more different, but the outcome was much the same… offering a room full of people a few minutes of joy in a crazy world.”
Sharing a screenshot from their last text exchange, the proud “pop” packed on the praise as he told his son how “very very very proud” he was.
“I wanted to tell you how proud I was of your last night…Your show was amazing and I think you got the ‘it’ factor which is very important but unexplainable. Your joy is infectious and you invite people into it,” he wrote, adding that he was also moved how he “encouraged” and supported another artist “after most people left.”
“That kind of thing right there will take you farther than great art… God doesn’t miss those things,” he wrote. “He notices things like that and blesses us I promise.”
In response, his son replied, “Love you dad.”
“Thank you so much. You have always believed in me,” he continued, noting that his father’s support made “me feel like a superhero.”
Concluding his statement, TobyMac shared one final message on behalf of him and his wife.
“We don’t follow God because we have some sort of under the table deal with Him, like we’ll follow you if you bless us. We follow God because we love Him. It’s our honor. He is the God of the hills and the valleys. And He is beautiful above all things,” he wrote.
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“Truett did pass away at home in the Nashville area sometime Tuesday night or Wednesday morning,” a representative for TobyMac confirmed in a statement to Entertainment Tonight, adding that a “cause of death has not been determined.”
The Davidson County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed he died Wednesday after medics responded to a cardiac arrest call at the family’s home.
TobyMac recently penned song “Scars” after his eldest son left home to pursue his dreams.
“He moved to L.A. and he’s making music and he’s doing his thing,” TobyMac told The Tennessean last October of the song’s inspiration “But to watch him go through that, and watch him get bruised, it’s not easy. So that’s one of the ways life has changed. In that song, I just want him to know he’s not alone.”
TobyMac has since paused his week-long Canadian tour to be with his family at their home in Franklin, Tennessee.