The Untold Truth Of Luke Bryan

After nearly two decades in the entertainment business, country singer Luke Bryan has become one of the genre's mainstays. Known for his upbeat music, the "Rain Is a Good Thing" singer's tunes pair perfectly with the outdoors and a cold beer or Mason jar of sweet tea. But how much do fans really know about the country crooner? There's a lot more to Bryan than his love of fishing and the South.

The two-time Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year winner has plenty of feel-good songs, but not everything in his life has been as easy as his lyrics suggest. Bryan has endured great personal tragedy, and he's been through a lot of struggles behind the scenes, including dealing with the deaths of multiple family members. Here are some of the things fans might not know about Luke Bryan, from his upbringing to his songwriting start in the country music business.

Luke Bryan grew up on a farm in Georgia

There's a reason Luke Bryan's songs mention the Flint River, which runs through Georgia. As a native of Leesburg, Bryan spent his formative years in the Peach State. "I loved growing up here," Bryan told Parade during a 2014 visit to his hometown. "It was [B]lack, white, Mexican. We'd all go out in the schoolyard and breakdance."

Bryan's small-town upbringing also cultivated a love of fishing and baseball — that "catfish dinner" in his song "That's My Kind of Night" sounds like a common occurrence for the star. "My hobbies are definitely just hunting and fishing. Doing some sports. Probably fishing is my first passion," Bryan told HuffPost in 2012. "The outdoors is mainly what I enjoy, and I've been preaching all that to my boys. Having two boys, it's fun to have that opportunity."

But things in Bryan's hometown have definitely changed since he skyrocketed to stardom. In 2013, Bryan's name was added to the Lee County hometown hero welcome sign. They're certainly proud of their native son!

Luke Bryan lost both his brother and sister

In 1996, Luke Bryan's brother Chris was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 26. The American Idol judge was just 19 at the time. The singer put his musical ambitions on hold after the tragedy. But in 2001, just after he'd signed a record deal, Bryan lost his sister, Kelly, too, when she was 39. Despite an autopsy, Bryan told People that Kelly's cause of death remains unknown (per Country Living). After Kelly's husband's death in 2014, Bryan and his wife Caroline took in Kelly's three children. But the losses still weigh heavy on the singer's heart.

"Man, I've had a billion emotions around all that. You never quite get over it," Bryan told Parade in 2014 of his brother's 1996 death. "But I do believe that when my brother was born, God allocated him 26 years. It was his time." The country singer also dedicated "Drink a Beer" to his late siblings, with a photo of the three of them appearing on-screen during his performance at the CMA Awards in November 2013. "My sister was drink-a-few-beers-on-the-back-porch perfect," he added. "The emotion of that loss... so many people have been right there. Sitting on a dock drinking a beer with your dad or granddad — it's such an honest connection."

Luke Bryan's wife Caroline Bryan had a miscarriage

Along with his late sister's children, whom Luke Bryan and his wife Caroline took in after both she and his brother-in-law passed away, the couple also has two biological sons, Thomas Boyer Bryan and Tatum Christopher Bryan. However, like many other aspects of the singer's life, the couple's journey toward parenthood was also marred with tragedy, as Caroline suffered a miscarriage early on in their marriage. 

"After Bo was born when we'd only been married for six months, I had a miscarriage, and Luke didn't know how to comfort me," Caroline told the Get Real with Caroline Hobby podcast in January 2019 (via CMT). "It sucks and it hurts. It's awful physically. But guys don't know. They haven't felt it or seen it. For girls, it's a true loss." The pain from the miscarriage will always be there for the couple, but it's clear from their various interviews and social media posts that there's so much love in their family and with their children. Just look at how sweet the family looks in Caroline's Father's Day 2020 Instagram post!

Luke Bryan met his future wife at college

When Luke Bryan put his plans to move to Nashville on hold, he went to college at Georgia Southern University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration. While his degree isn't exactly 100% applicable to his music career, the time he spent at school in Georgia helped him stay close to his family after his brother's death. He also met his wife Caroline while they were students at the school.

"We met my first week of college, at a bar called Dingus [Magee's], and we were just hangin' out. It was Thursday night. I was a freshman. It was my first time in a bar. I was so sheltered growing up in a very small town — Sandersville, the kaolin capital of the world — and I'd had the same boyfriend since eighth grade," Caroline told the Get Real with Caroline Hobby podcast in January 2019 (via CMT). "We'd agreed to go our separate ways and just see what was out there. Luke's personality was so big, I was staring at him like, 'Is this guy for real?' He was the second guy I ever kissed in my life. Ever."

Bryan was three years ahead of Caroline, so after he graduated, the couple went their separate ways. However, they ultimately reunited and they've been married since 2006.

Luke Bryan began his career writing songs for other country artists

While Luke Bryan is a household name in his own right now, his early work included supporting other country artists with his songwriting skills. Bryan wrote Travis Tritt's song "Honky-Tonk History," which was released in 2004. He also wrote Billy Currington's 2005 single "Good Directions."

But once Bryan's debut album, I'll Stay Me, was released in 2007, he gained plenty of attention for his own music. That album included his first single "All My Friends Say," and Bryan's been churning out hits ever since then. He performed at the Grand Ole Opry for the first time that year, and it was far from his last time at the iconic Nashville venue. In 2015, Bryan had an exhibit, Dirt Road Diary, at the Country Music Hall of Fame. So it's safe to say he's officially joined the ranks of those very country A-listers for whom he used to write.

Jason Aldean knows all about Luke Bryan's NSFW tattoo

According to fellow country star Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan has his wife's initials tattooed on his butt. "He was out on tour with me when he got it," Aldean told a local radio station in 2012. "You know, after you get a tattoo, when they start to heal, they itch, and you want [to] scratch it. Well, he kept complaining about it, and I was like, 'What is wrong with you?' And he told me he got a tattoo and then proceeded to pull one of his [butt] cheeks out, and I could see her initials on it."

Bryan hasn't confirmed the rumor, but what would Aldean gain by making it up? We're inclined to believe the "Dirt Road Anthem" singer on this one. After all, Bryan called Aldean his "best artist friend." And who better than a BFF to know your deepest, darkest secrets, including those hidden tattoos? Luke Bryan has been through a lot, including family tragedies that no one should have to bear. But he's managed to find joy through all of it and to bring happiness to his fans through his music, too.