Jason Aldean got emotional while accepting the top award for Entertainer of the Year -- for the third consecutive year -- at the 53rd Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday.
The 41-year-old country crooner seemed to choke up after he took to the stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and thanked his wife, Brittany Kerr Aldean, who also appeared emotional and buried her face in her hands as he took the stage.
“My wife, I love you, he said, before giving his three children a shout-out. "My three good luck charms at home … I love you guys."
“It's been a rough year,” the “You Make It Easy” singer reflected. “I just want to say thanks to everybody who reached out to us, that showed us love and support over the last six months. It meant the world to us. To my Route 91 people, you guys are in our hearts, always. I love you guys. And we love Las Vegas. Vegas strong, baby. Thank y'all."
Aldean was referring to October’s country music festival, just off the Las Vegas strip, where he was in the middle of performing a headlining set when a deadly shooting occurred.
The massacre left 58 victims dead and more than 500 people wounded.
Backstage with ET's Nancy O'Dell, Aldean said that his experiences in the six months since the attack made his win even sweeter.
"What a way to come back to Vegas," he remarked. "It’s unreal... Just being back here, it’s been an emotional thing for us the whole weekend. To end it like that, that’s crazy.”
“People reached out to us a lot over the last six months, and it’s meant the world to us," he added. "It’s just been a crazy ride, and when you win something like that, you feel the love of people in the industry. It makes you feel good, it’s special.”
Sunday’s show paid tribute to the victims, with Aldean opening the ceremony with fellow country stars Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, Maren Morris and Thomas Rhett, who dedicated the event to the power of music.
"On this night, our country community, the people here in Las Vegas, and all of you at home, are united through the power of music," Lambert declared.
Prior to the emotional intro, O’Dell caught up with Aldean on the ACMs red carpet, where he opened up about the ongoing pain that comes with discussing the horrific event.
"We've talked about [the tribute] so much over the last six months, but it's not something I enjoy talking about, really,” shared the singer, who released his latest record, Rearview Town, on Friday. “It's tough whenever it gets brought up, it's still tough."
"I'm 40 years old, but sometimes it takes us guys a while to grow up,” he added, reflecting on how the tragedy has changed him. “Something like that happens and it sorta makes you look at a lot of things different and realize how short life is, and it makes you get your act together a little bit. It definitely did that for me."
See more on Aldean and the 2018 ACMs below.
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