Monday, July 22

Toby Keith’s wife and kids stood by him amid cancer diagnosis – inside their 40 years as a blended family

Country music star Toby Keith was a man who loved his family. With the amount of success he had, the singer always made sure to lavish his family with the luxuries they deserve.

Toby Keith is perhaps one of the most well-known names in country music. The multi-platinum-selling artist enjoyed a very successful family life parallel to his professional life, but in 2021 things turned sad.

Toby Keith was married to his wife Tricia Lucus for almost 40 years.

The couple met in 1981 at a nightclub when Tricia was 19 and Keith was 20.

As soon as she laid eyes on him, she was smitten.

She later recalled their first meeting, “He was just one of those larger-than-life guys, full of confidence.” The attraction was mutual because soon after their first meeting, the couple began dating. And three years later, on March 24, 1984, they married.

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Things were not that glamorous when the couple tied the know. At the time Keith was working in an oil field and made about $50,000 a year. After work hours, he would perform with his band Easy Money at bars and clubs.

During this time, Keith lost his job. He took this time to focus on his music and asked his wife to have faith as he really believed he would be able to make it big. And he was right, soon Keith’s career took off and the singer was making millions.

He made sure to lavish his wife who stood by him in his tough times with gifts and other tokens of appreciation.

His wife said of these gestures, “Most people think he is just the most romantic person on the planet. He has his moments of charm. It is nice to get a bouquet of flowers, but I’ve told him, ‘Save the money. Roses die in five to seven days. Buy me an outfit or take me to dinner.’

Apart from doting on his beloved wife, he also made sure to take care of his children. The couple had three children, Shelley, Krystal, and Stelen. Shelley was born to Lucus before she met Keith. But after the couple married, Keith legally adopted the little girl as his own.

Krystal, like her father, also ventured into a career in country music. Before she embarked on a career as a musician, she heeded her father’s advice and got a college degree to make sure this career was what she really wanted.

Krystal now is focused on her music career and revealed that at times she and her father work on songs together but that she had to be “accomplished enough to earn the right to write with someone of his caliber,” before she used those songs for her album.

Toby Keith, a seven-time Grammy nominee, was also the grandfather to two of Krystal’s daughters. Krystal married Andrew Sandubrae in 2010 and they have two beautiful daughters together, Hensley Jack Sandubrae and Kirby Kaye Sandubrae.

The couple’s youngest child Stelen is very private as well and likes to keep to himself. But in November 2021 when he married his long-time girlfriend he posted a picture of himself and his bride. He also recently shared a picture of his parents at his wedding reception, showing the close bond he shares with his folks.

In 2021, the beloved Toby Keith revealed to fans that he was not doing well.

He wanted to make sure his fans knew what was going on with him and hence posted a message on his Instagram and Twitter accounts.

“Last fall I was diagnosed with stomach cancer. I’ve spent the last six months receiving chemo, radiation and surgery. So far, so good. I need time to breathe, recover and relax,” the singer wrote three years ago.

Even with the diagnosis, the country singer was not letting his spirit come down. He ended his note with a promise of seeing his fans soon. “I am looking forward to spending this time with my family. But I will see the fans sooner than later. I can’t wait,” he wrote and signed his initials.

As soon as the beloved singer posted this news, he was inundated with messages of love, prayers, and support.

Even before his own diagnosis, Keith was a vocal advocate of cancer research. In 2006, he established the Toby Keith Foundation to help provide children with cancer with housing for free.

The singer supports the cause very dearly and just this year Keith’s Oklahoma Golf Classic raised over $1 million for OK Kids Coral which provides children with cancer find free housing while they receive treatment in his home city of Oklahoma.

Sadly, despite Keith’s undeniable bravery and assurances that he would doggedly fight the disease to the end, the How Do You Look Me Now? singer passed away on the evening of February 5, 2024.

His death naturally sent shockwaves throughout the music industry and beyond, not least among his legion of fans, many of whom were praying for his recovery.

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In September 2023, Keith delivered one of his last ever performances, singing Don’t Let the Old Man In at the People’s Choice Country Awards held at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

The considerable effort it took for Keith to deliver the performance was not lost on his fans. One wrote: “Yall see him shaking? He fought hell to sing that song. And he nailed it.”

Another stated their belief that his ‘shaking’ was down to, “Medication side effects or nerves…or both.”

Sitting in the audience at the event was Keith’s wife Tricia, who was visibly moved as she watched her husband.

After receiving the Country Icon Award at the same gala, Keith gave a light-hearted acceptance speech where he told the audience: “I bet you never thought y’all’d see me in skinny jeans.”

Rest in peace, Toby Keith, and thank you for the memories.