Toby Keith's 3 Kids Tear Up Following Tribute Performance at 2024 CMT Music Awards

Keith died in February at the age of 62 from stomach cancer.

Toby Keith's children were moved to tears during the 2024 CMT Music Awards tribute to the "As Good as I Once Was" singer. 

During Sunday's broadcast, Brooks & Dunn, Sammy Hagar and Lainey Wilson took the stage to honor the late country singer with a performance of his songs, "Should've Been a Cowboy," "I Love This Bar" and "How Do You Like Me Now?!"

The tribute comes two months after Keith died on Feb. 5 following a stomach cancer battle that lasted more than a year. He was 62. 

In the audience for the performance were Keith's three adult kids -- Krystal Keith, Shelley Covel Rowland and Stelen Keith Covel -- who watched as the performers honored their dad by singing his most popular songs. Absent from the evening's festivities was Keith's wife, Tricia Lucus.

As the performers sang along to his songs, cameras cut to his three children becoming emotional by the love in the room for their dad. 

During the rendition of his hits, the performers who honored Keith -- including Ronnie Dunn, Kix Brooks, Riley Green, Roger Clemens, Lukas Nelson, and Mica Roberts -- swayed back and forth as audience members sang along and held up drinks, à la "Red Solo Cup," another one of Keith's most popular songs. 

ET spoke with Hagar, 76, backstage after the performance about what it meant to honor his longtime friend in that way. 

"Honestly, I am so relieved now. I feel so much better because I was such a wreck. I was afraid I wasn't going to make it through the song, you know?" Hagar told ET's Cassie DiLaura. "I'm sitting within his family; we've been crying all day. We were crying last night. But honestly, I feel so good about it. The fans here were so amazing. They just lifted me up and it turned sadness into joy."

He added, "This is about Toby Keith, man. I'm telling you, he was a great man, I love him so much and our family, our friends, my daughters, friends of his boy, they -- they grew up together -- I mean, honestly, I could go on and on. I'm...  I love them."

Ronnie Dunn, Sammy Hagar, Kix Brooks, Lainey Wilson, Riley Green, Roger Clemens, Lukas Nelson, and Mica Roberts performs at the 2024 CMT Music Awards - Getty Images

Before Hagar began his interview with ET, he had a sweet moment with one of Keith's daughters backstage, which caused him to become emotional. He said she expressed her pride in his performance and gratefulness for honoring her dad's prolific career. 

"She just told me that I sang it, she was really proud of how I sang it and that -- now I'm getting choked up," he said, taking a moment. "You know, friendship is a great thing."

ET also spoke with Dunn, 70, who said that he found their tribute to be "really fun" and a beautiful way to honor a longtime friend. He did note, however, that it was a little too difficult to perform when the emotions were riding high. 

"It's hard to hold your emotions in check when you do that, I'm a macho cowboy guy," he joked. 

Hosted by Kelsea Ballerini, the 2024 CMT Music Awards took place at the Moody Center in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, April 7, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The show aired on CBS and will also be available to stream live and on demand via Paramount+.