Toby Keith‘s son Stelen Covel, 27, honored his late father in a heartfelt Instagram tribute on February 8. Stelen, the youngest of the “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” singer’s three children, posted a throwback photo of the father-son duo in the pool, alongside an emotional message where Stelen called Toby his “biggest champion and guiding light.”
“You are the strongest man I have ever known,” Stelen began his tribute. “A fighter. A true titan of your industry. My guiding star. My coach. My hero. An embodiment of the American Spirit. You are a man whose strength, prowess, and talent could only be trumped by his ability to be a father and husband. Your impact is forever stamped on the world and on millions of people, yet not one person knew you the way I did.”
“You were my biggest champion and the guiding light in my darkest times,” Stelen continued. “The best mentor a man could ask for. You held a passion that was greater than mountains and it radiates through every lyric and chord. In the everlasting echo from the legacy of your music, you leave me strength and faith to lean on in the silence that follows.”
“You truly did it your way,” Toby’s son added, “from the starting gates to the finish line, and never apologized for it. The only thing I truly ever wanted in life was to make you proud. I promise I will continue to make you proud. It’s not goodbye forever; it’s just goodbye for now. I love you cowboy,” Stelen concluded his post.
Toby died at the age of 62 on February 5. The famous country singer was battling stomach cancer for over two years before he passed away. In addition to Stelen, Toby was also a dad to daughter Krystal, 38, and stepdaughter Shelley, 44. Toby shared his children with his wife Tricia Lucus, 61, whom he married in 1984.
In an interview with News 9 that aired weeks before Toby died, he revealed how Tricia was a support system to him during his cancer battle. “She’s been a trouper. She’s the best nurse,” Toby said. “The first time we went to Houston, to the hospital, she stepped right in and she just took control and said, ‘We got this. Let’s go.’ So she’s like, ‘We’re going to get this and don’t worry about it.’ ”
Many of Toby’s peers in the country music industry have shared touching tributes on social media since the news of his death. Those stars include Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Dolly Parton, Zach Bryan, Jason Aldean, and more.